Storm chaser McIlroy matches SA Open leader on day three
Rory McIlroy remained within three shots of leader Graeme Storm on day three of the South African Open, while Edoardo Molinari charged up the leaderboard with a superb round of nine-under.
Storm had equalled the course record of 63 in climbing to the summit on Friday and held a two-shot lead over Jbe Kruger at the beginning of round three, with 45 players having completed their second outing early on Saturday after the threat of lightning stopped play.
Kruger drifted to four off the pace by the end of his third round, but McIlroy proved a more stubborn pursuer as Storm went 17 under for the tournament.
The Northern Irishman, who was still feeling the effects of a back problem, twice caught the leader and matched his round of 67 to stay firmly in contention.
Storm - chasing a first European Tour title in 10 years - is now on a 41-hole bogey-free run, while McIlroy's cause was aided by a 157-yard eagle on the seventh and three birdies on the spin on the back nine.
Pitch perfect from McIlroy pic.twitter.com/G2ODEUo5E8-- The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 14, 2017
While it is the world number 251 who remains in control, McIlroy was satisfied with a round that saw him stay in touch despite his back injury.
"I'm very pleased. I was in a bit of discomfort early on but the physio patched me up, got me going and got me out to play," he said.
"I started well and felt I drove the ball well today for the most part and gave myself plenty of chances, took quite a few of them, especially around the middle of the round like I did yesterday.
"It was a decent score, [but] I felt like it could have been a little better.
"The finish was disappointing, not birdieing 15 and then dropping a shot on the way in.
"But I'm still in with a shot going into tomorrow and that's all I can ask."
Molinari equalled the same course record matched by Storm on Friday and posted five birdies in a row from the 11th.
The Italian is one of six men tied for fifth, while Jordan L Smith and Kruger are level on 13-under in a share for third.