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Rory McIlroy produced one of the shots of his life to help him grab a share of the lead going into the final round of The Open at St Andrews.
In a third round where Australia's overnight leader Cam Smith saw his chances take a big hit, McIlroy and Viktor Hovland went toe-to-toe in a scintillating display that catapulted them to the top of the leaderboard.
Seeking to end his eight-year major drought, McIlroy shot a superb six-under-par 66 to take a share of the lead with his Norwegian Ryder Cup teammate, Hovland.
McIlroy sent fans and commentators delirious at the 10th hole after an unforgettable moment at the world's oldest golfing major.
Having found one of the most famous bunkers at the Old Course, McIlroy chipped in for an eagle that sparked enormous cheers from the nearby gallery of fans, and left commentators beside themselves.
— Rory McIlroy Tracker (@RMTracker) July 16, 2022
That was one of the most incredible shots I’ve seen in a major championship.
Perfect wedge hole out from bunker on 10th for eagle.
Rory Flipping McIlroy
— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) July 16, 2022
Oh Rory McIlroy what a bunker shot that was!!
To the top of the leaderboard he goes. He means business this weekend 👏🏻👏🏻 #TheOpen
— Lewis Oldham (@LewisOldham99) July 16, 2022
Amazing moment. Rory McIlroy, confronting a treacherous bunker shot from which he stepped away twice, holes it for eagle. -15 and now with outright Open lead.
— Oliver Brown (@oliverbrown_tel) July 16, 2022
👀 Did you see this shot from Rory McIlroy?
An eagle from the bunker 🤯 https://t.co/IqVk92oNh1
— For Future Considerations (@PodcastFFC) July 16, 2022
McIlroy boosted his bid to end an eight-year major drought and become the first European winner at St Andrews since Nick Faldo in 1990 with five birdies and the brilliant bunker eagle.
Only a bogey on the famous 'Road Hole' 17th prevented the Northern Irishman from holding the outright lead as Hovland, chasing his first major title, also posting a 66 to join the Northern Irishman on 16 under.
"We fed off each other really well," said McIlroy.
"We both put ourselves into a great position going into tomorrow.
"I know if I play my game I can shoot scores like this on this course and I need to do it one more day and then I'll give you all the superlatives and everything else if that does happen."
Australia's Smith had been in pole position at halfway after posting a record two-round total of 13 under par, but the World No.6 three-putted the opening hole and made a double bogey on the 13th as he slipped off the pace.
Smith and Young will start the final round on 12 under, four shots behind, after rounds of 73 and 71 respectively, with world No.1 Scottie Scheffler and South Korea's Si Woo Kim a stroke further back.
Two-time major winner Dustin Johnson is six shots back following a 71, with Tommy Fleetwood and US Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick on nine under, alongside Australia's Adam Scott.
McIlroy lifted the Claret Jug in 2014 and claimed his fourth major in the US PGA a month later, but has not won one of the game's biggest titles since.
Asked about the significance of adding to his major haul at St Andrews, McIlroy said: "It would mean everything because of what I have been through the last few years, trying to get the fifth one."
Even an error-free front nine of 33 had McIlroy a shot behind an inspired Hovland, who had birdied four holes in a row from the third to take over from Smith at the top of the leaderboard.
McIlroy found the green in two on the 614-yard 14th to set up another birdie and move into the outright lead, only to then fire his approach to the daunting 17th over the green and off the wall.
The resulting bogey dropped McIlroy back alongside Hovland, who brilliantly saved par from just over the green, with both players then making a birdie on the last.
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