McIlroy eases into the frame again

Rory McIlroy speaks to PGA Tour Radio after his 64.

The top 15 might be covered by just five strokes but there's a clear favourite for the  Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on Monday — Rory McIlroy.

The world No 1 finally found his putting touch after two frustrating days and fired seven birdies in a faultless 64 to move up to tied third with playing parnter Chris Kirk on 10 under, just two shots behind leader Russell Henley.

Unsurprisingly, given the way he's been playing, McIlroy didn't feel he'd done anything special and it's that comfort level at the pointy end of the leaderboard that gives him so mich confidence heading into the final round as he bids to win the second event of the FedEx Cup play-offs and his fourth in five starts

"I've been in this position quite a lot recently," said McIlroy, who won the Open, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA before a modest share of 22nd in The Barclays. "So I know how it's going to feel tomorrow."

"It feels normal," McIlroy added. "It feels like it's what I'm supposed to do. It's my job to go out there and shoot good scores. I'm not getting too excited about it. I've got a lot of work to do tomorrow if I want to win this tournament."

McIlroy opened with rounds of 70 and 69 but he put the full package together on Sunday, picking up shot at the second and third and then following a birdie four at the seventh with four more gains in a homeward 31.

The highlights came at the 15th and 16th, where he hit approaches inside a foot each time. And while he felt that he should also have got up and down from left of the green for birdie at the par-five 18th — he missed a 12 footer for his four — he's clearly gunning for leader Henley, who shot a 65 to lead by one from Billy Horschel (67) on 12 under.

The key to McIlroy's score was some sensational iron play coupled with solid putting as he once again drove the ball perfectly.

While he holed a 27 footer for birdie at the third, a 10 footer at the seventh and an 11 footer at the 13th, his other four birdies were inside four feet with three of those from less than a foot.

"I didn't really do anything much differently," McIlroy said of the turnaround in his fortunes after two frustrating days. "I spent a little bit more time on the putting green this morning and worked on a few things, which helped.

"I putted better today though I didn't hole anything of significant length on the back nine. But it was just another solid day's play and it sets me up nicely going into tomorrow.

"I converted some more of the chances I gave myself today. I was frustrated coming off the course the last couple of days and felt like I left a lot of shots out there.

"Even today I felt like I might have left a couple out there, especially on the last. I'm just happy how I converted those chances and I am going to need to do the same tomorrow if I am going to win." 

Henley cwon the Sony Open last year for his first PGA Tour victory, faded away and then won the Honda Classic in March in a four-man playoff that included McIlroy.

Since then has missed eight cuts but he's also had a couple of top 20s and knows how to finish.

"I think I'm just still figuring it all out," Henley told AP. "I feel like I've been working really hard on my ball-striking to keep the ball more in front of me. I always feel pretty good with my putter. The other thing I have to work on is my attitude, and not be so hard on myself."

As for McIlroy, who will be playing just in front of him today, Henley said: "He's obviously a tough guy to beat. But like I said, there's a lot of tough guys to beat. Rory has had a heck of a run and I'm sure he'll continue that."

The US Ryder Cup wildcards will be named on Tuesday and former US Open champion Webb Simpson (68) is just three off the lead and alone in sixth on nine under.

Aother potential pick, Keegan Bradley, is only four shots behind after a 69.

As for the Europeans hoping to impress skipper Paul McGinley today, Ian Poulter's 71 left him tied for 37th, 10 shots off the lead on two under with Luke Donald tied for 67th after a 64 and lucky to make the third round cut.