Nine birdies represent early birthday gift for McIlroy

Updated: May 02, 2010, 08:54 AM IST

Charlotte: Rory McIlroy gave himself an early 21st birthday present when he shot a six-under-par 66 to surge into contention early in the third round of the Quail Hollow Championship on Saturday.

Using a "trusty old putter" he dusted off overnight, the young Briton mixed nine birdies with three bogeys to post a five-under 211 total.

Less than three months ago McIlroy was ranked seventh in the world but he has struggled since mainly due to a nagging back injury.

"It was a great round of golf," said McIlroy who turns 21 on Tuesday. "I feel as though I`ve been hitting it well for the last couple of weeks and not really getting much out of my game."

"But today I knocked a few putts in and gave myself plenty of chances. It puts me in a nice position going into tomorrow," he told reporters.

"I`m happy with where I`m at because the last couple of rounds have been a bit of a struggle. It`s just nice to get going and get myself in some sort of contention going into Sunday."

World number 13 McIlroy, who joined the PGA Tour this year, said his back was still a problem but added he was on the road to recovery.

"It`s getting better," he said. "It will probably take another two or three months to clear fully but I feel as if I can swing with a lot more freedom and practice more," said the Northern Irishman.

"I feel I can hit more balls and spend more time on the range which has definitely helped."

Bureau Report