McIlroy knows he has to shoot the lights out
A sportsman will always try to convince anyone they are still in with a chance of victory, but you do believe Rory McIlroy when the Ulsterman declares the Open is still within his sights, despite being four shots adrift of Ian Poulter.
The 21-year-old is bidding for a maiden victory at Fanling after back-to-back second places in the past two years, but unlike his nearest competitors McIlroy did not take full advantage of the potentially rewarding back nine at Fanling during yesterday's third round.
The world No 10 still managed to post a second consecutive four-under-par 66 to sit tied for fourth and, after coming two shots short of erasing Gregory Bourdy's five-shot third-round advantage 12 months ago, is the one to watch with Poulter holding a two-shot advantage over Graeme McDowell.
'It is certainly within me to shoot a low one. If I can go out and shoot something similar to what I shot on the first day, I'll have a great chance,' said McIlroy, who opened with a seven under par 63 on Thursday.
'I'd say the winning score will be 21 or 22 under. I know I'll have to go out and shoot a low one and hopefully I can do that.
'There were still scores to be shot out there. I didn't quite have it as well as I had it on Thursday and Friday, but a 66 is still a decent score. But I need to go out and try to put a low one on the board and see what happens.'
Three birdies and a bogey from the opening four holes handed McIlroy the early initiative, but after reaching the turn in two-under 32, this year's Quail Hollow Championship winner managed just two further birdies on the return trip, though a final hole birdie was in stark contrast to Friday's double-bogey six.
And while the aggressive nature of his game may have cost him two potentially rewarding shots on Friday, it could also secure a third career title given his familiarity with the Fanling layout.
'It was a nice way to finish the round. I shot the same score as in the second round, but definitely a nicer way to finish,' McIlroy said. 'I'm behind, but I feel as if I'm playing well and I made some key up and downs on the back nine to keep myself in there and I think my patience paid off with a birdie at the last.'