Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Rory McIlroy two shots clear at Honda Classic heading into final round

updated 8:09 PM EST, Sat March 1, 2014
Rory McIlroy remains top of the tree after the third round of the Honda Classic in Florida.
Rory McIlroy remains top of the tree after the third round of the Honda Classic in Florida.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rory McIlroy will take a two-shot lead into final round of Honda Classic
  • Tiger Woods shoots his best round of the year so far to move up 49 places
  • America's Russell Henley fires 68 to finish on 10-under -- two behind McIlroy

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- Rory McIlroy remains on course to repeat his 2012 triumph at the Honda Classic after finishing a third day on the top of the leaderboard at the PGA National in Florida.

After opening with rounds of 63 and 66, the Northern Irishman produced a steady one-under par round of 69 on Saturday to finish two shots clear on 12-under par after 54 holes.

The world no. 8, who endured a miserable run of form for most of 2013, got off to a flier with birdies at the first and third holes before relinquishing the advantage with back-to-back bogeys at six and seven.

Another birdie at the par four 12th was cancelled out two holes later before a birdie three at the 16th saw McIlroy slide back under par and close out without any further alarms.

How Dubai attracted the world's greatest golfers
Bringing golf's biggest prizes to Latin America
Henrik Stenson's $20 million year

"It's all about not making mistakes," McIlroy said following his round.

"It's about limiting the damage. You're going to make a few bogeys out there. If you limit those, hit fairways and greens, that's what I'm going to try to do tomorrow," he added.

"There's still 18 holes to go. But I'm feeling comfortable with where I am."

The 24-year-old's closest chaser is America's Russell Henley who shot a third round 68 to leave him on 10-under par.

Scotland's Russell Knox is a shot further back after also shooting a 68 on Saturday.

Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas is fourth following a third round 66 while Keegan Bradley and Ryan Palmer from the U.S., Australia's Stuart Appleby and England's Luke Donald are all within striking distance on seven-under par.

Tiger Woods is two shots further back on five under after posting a 65.

The world no. 1 shot not only his best round of the week, but of 2014 to leap 49 places up the leaderboard to tie for 17th.

"I didn't hit the ball very well (Friday); just kind of grinded it out. Today I struck the ball well and made some putts" Woods said, PGATour reported.

Woods, who opened with a one-over 71, was confident that his form which has been patchy at best this year was going to improve.

"It's going to turn around. We are all going to have hot spells and we're going to have cold spells, especially the longer we stay out here. I've had situations where it just seems like no matter what you do, you play, nothing really goes your way," Woods said.

Woods might be seven shots off McIlroy's lead but will be buoyed by the memory of his final round performance two seasons ago where he shot a blistering 62.

It wasn't quite enough to dislodge McIlroy who won by two after posting a final round 69. But if both players repeat those scores on Sunday then we could be heading for a playoff.

Read more: Day beats 'miracle man'

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:47 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
If golf has a reputation for being a bit stuffy, then the Bryan brothers and their trick shots are a much-needed blast of fresh air.
updated 8:18 AM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
Not many people make the leap from teenage market trader to golf pro and fashion entrepreneur, but that's just what Ian Poulter has done.
updated 6:29 AM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
"Sleep, as far as mental and physical recovery goes, has never been more important ..." says sport sleep coach Nick Littlehales.
updated 5:24 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Joe Miller is devouring his second steak of the day and the clock has barely nudged 2pm. You need lots of fuel to smash a drive 474 yards.
updated 10:49 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
There have been many dark days for Oliver Wilson, but golf's unluckiest loser is finally riding an upward swing of his career roller coaster.
updated 12:48 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
They dress like it's the 1930s and they swing antique equipment that eschews cutting-edge technology -- this is hickory golf.
updated 12:09 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
CNN's Living Golf focuses on women's golf, charting the growth of the sport from royal pastime to multi-million dollar machine.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
"I don't know how to paint happy," says golf's poster girl Michelle Wie. "I think it releases a lot of the darker feelings in me."
updated 8:13 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Phil Mickelson of the United States talks during a press conference after the United States were defeated by Europe after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland.
If you're a U.S. golf fan, or Tom Watson, look away now.
updated 7:18 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
A ban on uploading social media pictures from the course at Gleneagles was dropped for the Ryder Cup.
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
A spot of shopping, the odd spa day and some serious flag waving. Welcome to the life of a Ryder Cup WAG.
updated 9:01 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Tom Watson has learned plenty in the 21 years since he was last U.S. Ryder Cup captain, but social media is proving to be problematic.
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Patriotism will reach fever pitch when the USA and Europe collide in golf's Ryder Cup ... and it looks like Rickie Fowler has let it go to his head.
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Pressure is inescapable in the cauldron of Ryder Cup competition -- pressure and ping pong.
updated 7:50 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Millions of golf fans were watching on television with great anticipation. All Martin Kaymer could think about was getting his phone out.
ADVERTISEMENT