Rory McIlroy will draw inspiration from his brilliant final round at last year’s UBS Hong Kong Open as he goes gunning for victory in the 2009 event on Sunday (15 November).
The talented Northern Irish youngster sits five shots behind leader Grégory Bourdy of France after a riveting third round at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling.
McIlroy knows he will need a repeat of his 2008 heroics when he shot 65 on the final day to get into a playoff, which he eventually lost to Chinese Taipei’s Lin Wen Tang.
“I’ll have to do something like that or even better tomorrow,” he said. “My mindset is to get off to a fast start and try to keep it going. Obviously Grégory is playing very well out there.”
World No.17 McIlroy currently lies in third place after firing a five-under-par 65 on Saturday to reach 11-under for the tournament. Bourdy carded a 63 to stand at 16-under while Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen (65) is 14-under.
McIlroy, aged 20, showed flashes of brilliance in his third round but was left ruing a double-bogey at the par-four sixth that set him back after two early birdies.
“I got off to the perfect start and was two-under through three, but then made double bogey on six which took me right back to square one,” he said. “But I hit back well with birdies on seven and eight to get those shots straight back.
“It was great to get those two shots back immediately. I knew even though I was back to level there was a lot of golf still to be played. I knew I was hitting it well and putting well and it was a matter of giving myself chances again.
“Maybe a couple of years ago after making double bogey I would have been a bit flustered, but it comes down to experience. When people ask the difference between turning pro and now, the answer is experience. A couple of years ago that could have been it for me and I could have shot 73 or 74.”
The highlight of his day was an eagle at the par-five 13th when he reached the green with a superb five-iron approach shot from 260 yards.
McIlroy will head into the final day of the UBS Hong Kong Open determined not to think about his Race To Dubai battle with Lee Westwood.
World No.4 Westwood leads the Race To Dubai with season earnings of €2,404,579 – a lead of €52,320 over McIlroy with just two tournaments remaining, Hong Kong and next week’s Dubai World Championship.
But Westwood is out of the running for the Hong Kong title after a 69 on Saturday left him at five-under for the tournament. “I’m just thinking about the tournament,” insisted McIlroy. “I’m behind Grégory Bourdy and that’s all I’m worried about.”