Rory McIlroy stands on the threshold of history as he leads the field by six strokes in the British Open after three rounds. He would be only the third player ever at age 25 to have three major victories.

As he prepared for his Saturday round where he eventually shot a 68 McIlroy himself said: “I just feel like I have an inner peace on the golf course. I’m very comfortable in this position, doing what I’m doing right now.

“It’s hard to describe. I wish I could get into it more often. If I’m able to do it a few times a year, that’s nice. It’s a combination of confidence, just being mentally strong, mentally aware of everything.

“Yeah, I’ve been in this position before in Major championships but I haven’t been in this position in the Open Championship. I’m just really looking forward to the weekend.”

Golf legend Tom Watson is backing McIlroy to add the British Open to his major collection at Hoylake on Sunday. .

The Ulsterman teed off the Royal Liverpool links at 11am local time as the competition switched to three balls in the third round for the first time ever in an effort to beat the anticipated heavy rain and winds which never transpired.

For McIlroy, honed on links golf back home in Ireland, the conditions weren’t expected to present a problem after a sparkling 66 in the second round.

Addressing the media after making the cut at the age of 64, Watson said he expects the Holywood hero to stay there by close of business on Sunday.

The US Ryder Cup captain and five-time Open winner is confident McIlroy can lift his third career major.

He said: “Rory is such a good player, yesterday he hit some marvellous shots. Tiger did the same thing when he won here. He hit the ball straight at the flag and his iron game was so much better than anybody else’s in the field when he won here in 2006.

“I was watching Rory, it was impressive and that’s what you have to do to win here.”

Watson, sure to face McIroy in action for Europe at September’s Ryder Cup, believes the Ulsterman has the game to see the job done no matter what the weather throws at him.

He added: “Rory’s pretty good at being a front runner. He has a pretty impressive track record in some of his tournament and he showed it today, the way he put it all together.”

Former Open champion Darren Clarke, next best of the Irish, is also backing his fellow Ulsterman to triumph in the storm.

Clarke said: “Looking at the scores he’s shooting, of course he’s the man to beat this weekend. When Rory McIlroy finds his form, he’s a tough man to beat."