Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter confident of catching Justin Thomas in Ohio
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 05/08/18 7:16am
Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter are both relishing the prospect of challenging for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title on the final day at Firestone Country Club.
McIlroy declared he was "happy with everything" after he fired a bogey-free 67 on a tough third day in Akron to move into a share of second place with Poulter on 11 under, although both are three strokes adrift of leader Justin Thomas after 54 holes.
Thomas will be joined by McIlroy in Sunday's final pairing, while Poulter is looking forward to feeding off the "huge buzz" of being in contention for a third WGC title having already won the Match Play and the HSBC Champions.
McIlroy conceded he missed a handful of opportunities to be closer to the lead heading into the final 18 holes, including one from four feet at the 10th, but he was delighted to keep a bogey off his card for the second time this week.
"That was the best I've hit it off the tee, and probably the best I've hit it overall," said the 29-year-old, who was also three behind heading into the final round when he won at Firestone in 2014. "I hit some better wedge shots out there, which was good to see. I wish I could have converted a couple more of the chances, but it sort of all evened out.
"I holed a couple of really nice putts for par in the middle of the back nine, so happy with that. The course is firming up a little bit, but the greens are still receptive although it was definitely playing a little bit tougher today than it has done the previous two days.
"I'm just happy with everything. It's a great opportunity to test what I've been trying to work on this week, and test it under the gun on a Sunday when you have a chance to win. So I'm excited for it, and I think it's going to be great prep for next week as well.
"So I'll obviously be fully engaged to try to win this tournament but knowing that if I play well tomorrow, it puts me in the right frame of mind going into next week as well.
"It's been good. The more you can limit the mistakes around here, the better. I'm just probably going to need a couple more birdies tomorrow than I had today to have a chance."
Poulter found it tougher to limit the mistakes he had mostly avoided over the first two days, but he feels confident about his chances of becoming only the fifth player to win three or more WGC titles.
"It's a huge buzz to be in contention," he said after mixing four birdies with as many bogeys in his third-round 70. "It's a great feeling, but that's why you practice, that's why you put the hours in and it's why you enjoy the game of golf.
"To get the adrenaline rush you get when you're right there having to hole a 15-footer or even a three-footer, it makes all the practice worthwhile. You can enjoy it and it's a great rush.
"Three out of four (WGC titles) would be amazing. I'm going to need some inspiration from Thursday, going clean, not making any mistakes and just have some fun. I'm in a great position, I'm enjoying my golf. It's great being up that end of the leaderboard."