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Energised McIlroy ready for marathon final day

ESPN staff
August 12, 2012 « Henderson beats Edgar to retain title | Chartbeat test »
Rory McIlroy had to recover his ball from a dead tree on the third on Saturday © PA Photos
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Overnight co-leader Rory McIlroy is confident he has the stamina to cope with 27 holes on the final day of a major to win the US PGA Championship.

The 2011 US Open champion is tied atop the leaderboard with another former major champion, Vijay Singh, at Kiawah Island - with Adam Scott just a shot behind going into the final day. But all three players will have at least half of their third rounds to complete on Sunday morning before the final round even gets underway, after bad weather forced the postponement of play on Saturday.

The extra holes to be played at the longest major venue of the year, coupled with the draining pressure of competing for such a big title, could see many players struggle with fatigue and make mental mistakes over the course of the afternoon - but McIlroy is determined to avoid that fate.

"I don't think you can let it affect you at all," McIlroy said. "You know, the way I'm looking at it, I'm going into the final day of the final major of the season tied for the lead, so I mean, I can't ask for much more.

"So, you know, I don't care if it's going to be 27 holes, 18 holes, 36 holes; I'm just happy to be going in there in a good position.

"Physically, it's a big golf course. Playing 27 out there is going to take its toll, especially at the end of the week. So I'll just conserve my energy, get an early night to night and make sure I'm rested and ready to go for tomorrow morning."

With so many holes to be played, however, McIlroy is aware that there are any number of players who can still get themselves into contention over the marathon final day.

"There's still a lot of guys with a chance to win going into tomorrow," he noted. "Twenty-seven holes left, you've still got a long way to go.

"I've put myself in a nice position going into tomorrow. And I said here on Wednesday, and that's all I really wanted to do, just put myself into position, and I've been able to do that."

Of the nine holes of his third round McIlroy managed to complete, the biggest drama came at the third - where his tee shot somehow managed to get embedded in a tree. The Northern Irishman was simply happy to escape with a par after a bizarre experience.

"I got up there and I knew the line of the ball was right on the tree," he said. "So, you know, I was just like, well, if it hit the tree, I'm sure it's just somewhere around here in these long grass things or in the wood chip or whatever. We'd been looking for it for maybe about three minutes and then one of the guys that was working for the TV came over and said, you know, it's actually stuck in the tree.

"I'm like, how can it be stuck in this thing? There's no branches, no leaves for it to be stuck in. But it had wedged itself in between the tree bark and the actual tree, so I was just happy to get it up and down for four and move on to the next. I thought it was very important to do that, especially after birdieing the first two holes."

Players return to complete their third rounds on the Ocean Course at 7.45am local time on Sunday.

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