Rory McIlroy is on the verge of a stunning US Open title win at the Congressional club in Washington – after moving eight shots clear of the star studded field.
The Irish youngster maintained his stunning form as he pulled further clear in round three of golf’s second major of the year in Maryland.
McIlroy, who led the Masters before a final day collapse in April, is on the brink of one of golf’s greatest ever achievement after blowing the opposition away on Saturday.
The 22-year-old shot 68 to post the US Open’s best ever 54-hole total of 199 and become the first man to reach 14 under in its 111-year history.
South Korea’s Y.E. Yang remains second at six under as Lee Westwood and Jason Day hit 65s for five under with Robert Garrigus.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia (69), American Matt Kuchar (69) and Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson (66) are all in contention of sorts at four under – but in reality they are all in the race to finish second to County Down superstar McIlroy.
Indeed, the Ulsterman is playing such good golf this week that his Sunday nightmare at Augusta seems totally irrelevant.
And the historians have pointed out that the record comeback for a last round at the US Open is nine holes and dates back to Jack Fleck at the Olympic Club in 1955.
European Ryder Cup legend Colin Montgomerie described the opening three rounds from McIlroy as: “The best exhibition of golf we have seen since Tiger Woods’s domination of the 2000 US Open when he won by a record 15 shots at Pebble Beach.”
Holywood-born McIlroy will become the youngest US Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923 if he wins today. A victory would also see Northern Ireland mark the first time a nation other than the United States has won back-to-back US Opens, following Graeme McDowell’s victory 12 months ago.
Incredibly, Mclroy has now held the lead in six of his last seven rounds of Majors golf.
“I know now how to approach tomorrow. At Augusta it was all a bit new to me,” said McIlroy after his third round master class.
“I didn’t know whether to be defensive or aggressive. I have a clear mind now and just need to stick to my game plan.
“It would mean a lot to me. Even though it’s been a short career I feel I’ve had enough experiences and feel the time is right to go ahead and win my first major.”
Englishman Lee Westwood, back on five under, did have a warning for McIlroy however as the pack look to somehow catch the runaway leader.
“My mission was to get myself somewhere into the tournament,” said Westwood.
“Rory’s had a big lead in a major and didn’t deal with it well before. There’s pressure on him with regards to that, so we’ll see.
“They don’t give trophies away on Fridays and Saturdays. All I can do is control my game and try and shoot as low a score as possible for me.”
Reigning champion McDowell’s 69 put him joint 21st on level par while Padraig Harrington is well down the field on three over.
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore