Rory McIlroy will take a three-shot lead into the final round as he seeks to not only end a six-month winless drought but also capture a first Irish Open title.
The current World No 3 returned to the course at 7.30am local time on Sunday to complete the last three holes in his third round after two lengthy weather-related stoppages late on Saturday at the K. Club course.
McIlroy had been nine under par at the time and then proceeded to par the 16th, 17th and final holes in a bogey-free round of a two-under-par 70 for a nine-under-par tally.
“I’m a little disappointed with how I finished today,” McIlroy said.
“I felt like I had two good opportunities there on 16 and 18 to make birdies and didn’t birdie either of them.”
After shooting his first bogey-free round since a third round 68 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral in March, he added: “I am going to have to go out and shoot a solid round of golf this afternoon and hopefully that will be good enough.
“That’s one of my first bogey-free rounds in a while so if I can continue that, not make any mistakes and just throw in a few birdies, that will be the game plan and hopefully it works out.
“To be leading going into the final day – I’m standing here a little disappointed it isn’t more – is good. So I will just rest up to try and get myself mentally rested to go out and play another good round.”
The four-time Major winner is hosting the event and looking to capture a first victory anywhere since his triumph last November in the European Tour season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Augusta National champion Danny Willett, who is looking to become only the second player after Seve Ballesteros in 1993 to win both the Masters and an Irish Open in the same season, signed for a two over par 73 to be in second place at six under par.
Scotland’s Russell Knox has bounced back from needing to borrow a driver, after cracking the face of his own driver on day one, to be in third place with a round of 70 for a five under par tally.
Also at five under par is South African Richard Sterne who carded a round of 70.
McIlroy will commence his final round around 10am GMT on Sunday.