Louisville: World number one Rory McIlroy began Saturday`s third round of the PGA Championship on a rain-soaked Valhalla course that was offering up receptive greens for his pinpoint driving skills.
The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland, coming off a victory three weeks ago at the British Open, seeks his fourth career major crown after wins at the 2011 US Open and 2012 PGA Championship, both in wet conditions as well.
McIlroy, who stood on nine-under par 133 after 36 holes, was one stroke ahead of Saturday last-pairing partner Jason Day of Australia and American Jim Furyk.
A 7,458-yard layout drenched by downpours was proving vulnerable to early starters.
American Brandt Snedeker fired a five-under par 66 to seize the early clubhouse lead on six-under 207 for 54 holes with third-ranked Sergio Garcia, American Brooks Koepka and Scotland`s Marc Warren on 208 after all firing 66s and England`s Justin Rose on 209 after a 67.
"It was a little easier just because it was soft," Koepka said. "You could throw darts at the pin. They weren`t spinning back. They weren`t going to bounce forward. If you hit a good shot, controlled the spin, you were fine. Wherever they landed is pretty much where they stopped."
"You could be aggressive because of the conditions," Warren said.
Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, warned that more rain might be needed to prevent Sunday`s final round from becoming a mud-ball mess.
"The fact the fairways are so wet probably is a good thing. It`s not picking up much mud," Rose said.
"But it`s going to be really be a nightmare out there tomorrow if we don`t get a little rain from now until then. The ball is going to pick up so much mud, which is obviously tough conditions to play in."
Rose was, however, was predicting a winning score that could flirt with the PGA record-low sub-par mark of 18-under shared by Tiger Woods and Bob May from their 2000 battle at Valhalla, which Woods won in a playoff.
"I would say the winning score is going to be 16(-under), somewhere in that realm," Rose said.
Only Young Tom Morris, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus won four majors at a younger age than McIlroy if he hoists the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday.
He would be the first man since Padraig Harrington in 2008 to win two majors in the same year and two in a row, the Irishman having taken the British Open and PGA titles six years ago.
McIlroy could also become only the 11th player, and the first since Tiger Woods in 2007, to win a major the week after winning another title.