Rory Mcilroy graeme mcdowell

Irish duo Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are on the verge of World Cup glory in China.

The pair currently lead the rest of the world by two shots going into Sunday’s final round at the Mission Hills course.

The Ulster duo, both major winners, are on course to land Ireland’s first World Cup this millennium after a third round 64 in Saturday’s fourballs.

Ireland now stand on 21 under par for the tournament, two shots ahead of Germany, South Africa and the United States.

“We are right where we want to be going into tomorrow,” McDowell told reporters after the impressive third round score.

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“The leaderboard was really going to not mean anything until tonight and we are two shots ahead going into tomorrow, but there are some great teams up there, some great players.

“We are going to have to go and play well tomorrow but this is where we want to be. We are both playing lovely. I managed to heat my putter up today and make a few, and we are very excited looking forward to tomorrow.”

McIlroy and McDowell combined for five birdies in their opening seven holes as they quickly moved clear of the field on Saturday.

Having finished runners-up to Italy when the World Cup event was last staged two years ago, they are favourites to finish the job on Sunday.

“We thought something similar to the first day was going to be a solid score and we ended up sort of coming one short of that,” said McIlroy as Ireland chase a first World Cup since 1997 when Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley triumphed.

“But anything around eight, nine, 10-under par is a good score in that format, and I was just lucky enough that Graeme played very, very well today and holed a lot of great putts. I was a spectator for the majority of the round, but it was good.”