For much of the round it seemed as though Rory McIlroy might forfeit the four-shot lead with which he began the day, but when all was said and done he remained comfortably in front in Hoylake. Here’s how things look after three rounds at the Open Championship, where McIlroy is now six shots ahead:
What it means: McIlroy was slow out of the gates, playing his first 13 holes in even and at one point was caught by a surging Fowler. He quickly reinstated his advantage, though, and after eagles on two of his last three holes he turned in a 4-under 68 to remain in complete control.
Round of the day: McIlroy aside, Darren Clarke went out early and got off to a fast start with birdies on four of his first five holes. The 2011 Open champ made only one bogey and closed with a pair of birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 to shoot a 67, moving to 5 under for the week and onto the cusp of the top 10.
Best of the rest: Jordan Spieth played alongside Tiger Woods Saturday, and just as he schooled him when paired together at Torrey Pines, Spieth beat him by six shots in the third round at Royal Liverpool, 67-73. Spieth had three birdies in his first five holes and played the inward half in 3 under to move from the cut line to inside the top 25 through 54 holes.
Biggest disappointment: Francesco Molinari was in the final group Saturday alongside McIlroy and Johnson, but while others put up red numbers the Italian stumbled to a 3-over 75. Molinari bogeyed each of his first three holes and never got things on track, falling into a tie for 23rd at 3 under.
Main storyline heading into Sunday: Even though it seemed for an hour or so that there could be some drama, Sunday will now be a coronation - or an epic fail - for McIlroy. Up by six shots with 18 holes to go, McIlroy is on the cusp of the third leg of the career grand slam after winning his first two majors by eight shots apiece.
Shot of the day: McIlroy took command with an eagle on No. 16, but he added some style points with his approach to the par-5 18th, a high, arcing shot that rolled to within 15 feet. He rolled in the eagle putt to move six shots clear heading into the final round.