Rory McIlroy’s “outside” chance of retaining his US PGA Championship midway through the tournament has leaped to a more positive prospect three-quarters way through.

As he starts his fourth and final round today(Sun) at New York’s Oak Hill Country Club he lies joint seventh, thanks to yesterday’s grand-slam finish which put him three-under par, six behind leader Jim Furyk.

McIlroy, 24, rose a couple of dozen places on the leader-board when he birdied at the 17th and 18th yesterday, beating trash-can obstacles in the process.

At the 18th, he pulled his tee-shot into trees on the left and found his ball lying against one of four staked rubbish bags.

A walking rules official told him to play the ball where it lay, but that he was entitled to remove the rubbish containers.

He started lifting the bags, was helped by some spectators. Then, with spectators holding rubbish bags some yards behind him, McIlroy fashioned a miracle stroke, keeping his four-iron shot under the tree branches.

The ball pitched on the front of the green and then ran onto rough at the back.

McIlroy then added to his magic legend as he chipped into the hole for a seismic roar that was greeted with a powerful fist pump.

Philip Reid reported in the Irish Times: “McIlroy was well and truly back, and into the thick of this season’s final Major.”

McIlroy hasn’t ruled out the prospect of retaining his revived form to sneak a win today.

He recalled his win in the 2010 Wells Fargo at Quail Hollow when he staged a remarkable rally.

He said: “Every time I’m in this position, I just think back to Quail Hollow a few years ago and what I did the weekend there. It gives me a bit of confidence knowing that I’ve been in that position before and I’ve been able to win.”

Graeme McDowell is next best of the Irish, lying 34th, at two over after carding a 73. Shane Lowry and Darren Clarke stand at six over after respective third rounds of 75 and 74.