McIlroy gets British Open plans back on track
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy plays a shot in the rough at the Irish Open at the Fota Island Resort in Cork, Ireland, on June 20, 2014 - by Paul Faith
The double Major winner emerged from light mist that engulfed the Royal Aberdeen course to move back inside the top 20 as the leaders were heading out.
Despite a first hole bogey McIlroy bounced back to pick up three birdies in a four-hole stretch from the third before then completing the next dozen holes in one under that included a 16th hole birdie.
It was a positive turnaround in form for the 25-year old who heads into the 143rd British Open next week as one of the leading favourites to win the Claret Jug for the first time.
McIlroy’s return to form came a day after he posted his worst European Tour score in 51 weeks in signing for a horror seven over par 78 and just a stroke outside his 2013 British Open round of 79.
“The conditions out there this morning were certainly easier than they were yesterday so that helped with scoring,” he said.
“They also have actually moved a few of the tee boxes up on the back nine which makes it a bit easier.
“So overall it was a good round of golf. I didn't get off to a great start again. I was one over through two holes when you're looking to really be one‑under, with the second a reachable par 5.
“But after that I played very solidly, four birdies and no bogeys. Didn't really put myself in too much trouble.”
McIlroy is competing in the Scottish Open for the first time since 2009 and will head to Royal Liverpool on Sunday ahead of teeing up in his seventh British Open and with his previous best finish sharing third place in 2010 at St Andrews.
McIlroy’s effort at the Home of Golf mirrored his efforts this week in Aberdeen having began with a new course record 64 but then returning on Friday to sign for a score 14 shots higher.
In 2010, McIlroy set a new Old Course record of a blistering nine-under par 63, and while conditions were poor on day two, his round of 80 virtually ruined all hope of winning golf’s oldest major.
“It’s important for me going now into tomorrow’s last round thinking to myself that I have shot 64 and 68 on this golf course, which are two really good scores,” he said.
“Friday was just one of those days where nothing really went right. I couldn't get any momentum.
“So it would be nice to shoot another good one tomorrow and head to Hoylake with a bit of confidence.
“I feel good with my game and I say enough positives in there to give me confidence going into the Open.”
Scotland's Craig Lee held the clubhouse lead late in the round Saturday having posted a five under par 66 to move to six under par.
It also put Lee in a good position to secure one of three spots into the British Open on offer to the top three players to finish inside the top-10 and who are not otherwise exempt.