Golf / Sports

Strong drives keep Rory McIlroy rolling

When Jack Nicklaus gave Rory McIlroy a swing tip after the Memorial Tournament in May, Nicklaus' hip emitted an audible creak on his backswing.

McIlroy hasn't yet implemented the hip creak into his game, but his swing looked as good as ever during Saturday's third round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club.

After a rain delay of three hours and 14 minutes, the rust was evident from most of the remaining golfers on the final three holes.

Keegan Bradley's drive from the 18th tee landed on the 17th fairway. Charl Schwartzel had to swing left-handed after driving into the rough and under a pine tree.

McIlroy's booming drive down the middle of the 17th fairway, meanwhile, elicited a series of gasps from the few fans who stuck around.

"I've never driven the ball better, I really haven't," McIlroy said. "I'm excited about it, I really am. I feel really comfortable with that part of my game, and that part of game is the foundation of my game.

"If I can drive the ball well, everything else seems to sort of flow on from that."

Everything seems to add up, considering McIlroy birdied the final two holes to finish the round 4 under and head into the final round of play at 11 under and 3 strokes behind leader Sergio Garcia.

"I feel like I've driven the ball well all year, really," McIlroy said. "If you look at my stats and you look at some of the drives that I've hit, I feel like, since I got this driver that I've been using since October of last year, it's all really come together."

After a somewhat disappointing 2013 season, McIlroy has bounced back this year and is playing close to his best golf. He finished tied for eighth in the Masters before winning the most recent major championship, the British Open in Hoylake, England, over Garcia and Rickie Fowler.

In the final round of the Open, McIlroy was paired with Fowler.

Saturday, McIlroy will play alongside Garcia and hopes to keep his momentum rolling by capturing his first victory at Bridgestone and eighth PGA Tour victory.

If he were to catch Garcia, it would be the fourth time that McIlroy came from behind to earn a PGA Tour championship.

"Sergio didn't quite have that luxury of seeing what I was doing on the last day at Hoylake and it will be nice to play alongside him 1/8Sunday3/8 and at least keep an eye on what's going on," McIlroy said. "So I'll try and apply a bit of pressure when I can, but I'm just really looking forward to getting out there and having another chance to win a tournament so soon after what happened at Hoylake a couple weeks ago."

(c)2014 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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