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McIlroy on a roll before weather intervenes

ESPN staff
August 11, 2012 « London Olympics 2012 LIVE! | Chartbeat test »
The weather stopped play at Kiawah Island © PA Photos
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US PGA Championship leaderboard

Rory McIlroy and Vijay Singh will sleep on a slender shared lead at the US PGA Championship, after bad weather on Saturday forced the suspension of the third round until Sunday morning.

McIlroy, the 2011 US Open champion, had just hit the turn and simultaneously just slipped back towards Singh when an approaching thunderstorm forced play to be suspended - before ultimately being abandoned for the day.

The field will return in the morning to complete the third round at Kiawah Island, with the fourth to be played in three-balls off two tees early in the afternoon in order to try and complete the tournament in the regulation four days.

McIlroy and SIngh were both six-under when the horn went, with the wind just picking up again after generally dying down for the late starters. Behind the two front-runners, Adam Scott had reached four-under for his round to move within striking distance - with Carl Pettersson only one shot further back.

Singh was in the eighth fairway when forced to return to the clubhouse, having made a solid start as his playing partner Tiger Woods struggled for consistency. The 14-time major champion was yet again taking the lead into the weekend at a major championship, but three bogeys in four holes had seen him slide down the leaderboard before the elements gave him something of a reprieve.

Of those who completed 54 holes, Bo Van Pelt is the leader in the clubhouse after putting together an impressive round of 67 in tough conditions to reach three-under, with Steve Stricker only a shot further behind.

Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington is in the clubhouse at one-under, along with English journeyman David Lynn and his American equivalent, Jimmy Walker.

A group of Europeans are level with Stricker with holes still to play - Peter Hanson, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter - while an unlikely former Masters champion, Trevor Immelman, is level with Van Pelt with eight holes of his third round still to complete.

When play resumes on Sunday, however, most of the attention will rightly be on McIlroy. The Northern Irishman has been driving well all week and that continued on Saturday, as he caught fire on the Ocean Course with five birdies in the opening eight holes.

Even a bit of drama at the short par-four third could not derail him; McIlroy was forced to take a penalty drop after what was a reasonable good tee shot somehow ended up embedded in a dead tree trunk, but nervelessly pitched up to six feet and rolled in the putt to ensure there would be no real damage done.

A mistake at the ninth - as the wind was just picking up - saw him give back a shot on the field, but he remains out in front with only Singh for company.

The Fijian, in the final group with Woods in a pairing reminiscent of the early 2000s, made a steady start in South Carolina - birdieing the first but then reeling off pars until picking up another shot at the par-five seventh, albeit with a 45-foot putt.

The person probably least pleased about the suspension of play was Scott - the Australian, looking to bury memories of his Open meltdown, had just made three birdies in succession between the seventh and ninth to leapfrog into contention when fate intervened.

He will return early on Sunday an attempt to pick up where he left off, while others will be hoping the break has given them the chance at a fresh start in more favourable scoring conditions.

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