McIlroy restores wind-battered confidence

St Andrews: After the savage St Andrews weather battered the confidence of Rory McIlroy on Friday, he got his British Open challenge back on course with a defiant third round.

McIlroy`s 69 maintained his record of never carding a round in the 70s at the Old Course, but unfortunately for the 21-year-old his demoralising second-round 80 meant he was not challenging more strongly going into the final round.

The Northern Irishman went out in 34 on Saturday and further birdies at the 12th and 15th put him back in touching distance of the chasing pack in hot pursuit of leader Louis Oosthuizen.

But a double bogey at the treacherous 17th hole scuppered his chances of getting back into genuine contention. He picked up another shot at the 18th to leave him on four-under 212.

"I definitely hit a few shots out there that I wasn`t able to play yesterday. I think it might have just been because I had 80 shots yesterday, so I had a little bit of practice," he joked with reporters by the windswept 18th green.

"I hit a good shot on 17, just got a gust of wind that completely switched. I hit a seven-iron 210 yards and got a complete gust there, so it was pretty unfortunate."

McIlroy`s second to 17 ended up jammed against the wall at the back of the putting surface. He did well to chip to the far side of the green before three-putting for a six.

The world number nine said he would need to reproduce the kind of numbers he carded for his opening course record 63 if he was to have a chance of lifting the Claret Jug and his first major.

"If the lead tomorrow is eight, nine, ten under par going into tomorrow, I feel I`ve got a really good chance because I know what I`m capable of around this golf course and I know what I`m capable of in final rounds," he said.

Bureau Report