Aug 11, 2014

    McIlroy and Mickelson on brink of golfing history


    ONE is the hottest player in gold right now. The other is a five-time major winner who has suddenly rediscovered his touch.

    Throw in some hungry young tyros and, by the time you read this today, someone would have made golfing history.

    Rory McIlroy takes a one-shot lead into the final round of the PGA Championship,with Phil Mickelson among nine players within four shots of the lead.

    One shot is all McIlroy said he needs.

    "I'm really confident," the 25-year-old Northern Irishman told reporters.

    "No matter who is on that leaderboard, I feel like I can beat them. I can look at the leaderboard and it doesn't affect me."

    McIlroy shot 4-under 67 yesterday at Valhalla Golf Club to reach 13-under par for the tournament, one ahead of Bernd Wiesberger of Austria. He is coming off wins at the British Open and Bridgestone Invitational that pushed him to No. 1 in the world ranking.

    "I'm in the best position I can be," McIlroy said.

    "I'd rather be the guy with the one-shot lead being chased. It's going to be a shootout."

    With a win, McIlroy would become the fourth-youngest golfer with four major titles, after Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Morris Jr.

    Wiesberger, who made the cut in one of his five previous major tournament appearances, shot a bogey-free 6-under 65 to reach 12-under, one ahead of American Rickie Fowler. McIlroy and Wiesberger will play together in the last group today.

    Mickelson, the 2005 PGA winner, and Jason Day of Australia are tied for fourth at 10-under.

    Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Finland's Mikko Ilonen, American Ryan Palmer and 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa are another shot back.

    McIlroy took sole possession of the lead at 13-under with a birdie on the par-5 18th hole, where he sank a putt of seven feet after hitting an approach shot into a bunker in front of the green. He had three birdies over his closing four holes, including the 16th, which he reached with a 9-iron from 172 yards after a drive of 337 yards.

    Wiesberger, 28, is the least-known player on a leaderboard filled with marquee names.

    A two-time winner on the European PGA Tour, he is No. 70 in the world ranking.

    Said Wiesberger: "I didn't expect any of this really, coming into this week. It's a new situation for me in a major championship."

    Mickelson moved up the leaderboard with birdies on holes 14, 15, 16 and 18 after bogeys on holes 11 and 12.

    He has no top-10 finishes this season, and missed the cut at the Masters Tournament in April.

    Said Mickelson: "It's so fun for me to be back in the thick of it, to have a chance. It's been a nice change."

    Fowler, who finished in the top five of the season's three previous majors, had four birdies and no bogeys to match McIlroy's 67.