KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Rory McIlroy birdied his final hole to take a two-stroke lead Saturday in the weather-hit Malaysian Open, while Masters champion Charl Schwartzel barely made the cut for the third round.
Overcoming his recent final-round collapse at the Masters, Northern Ireland’s McIlroy moved to 12-under par after nine holes of the third round. Only a dozen players completed their third round after rain and lightning disrupted hours of play at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club for the second straight day.
Schwartzel just made the cut Saturday with a 1-under 71 in the second round to finish at 144. The South African ended the day at 2 under through 11 holes of the third round. Top-ranked Martin Kaymer is at 9 under after 15 holes, moving up from 25th to sharing fifth place with Felipe Aguilar.
But it was Frenchman Gregory Bourdy who dominated the third round with seven birdies against a lone bogey through 14 holes. He and Italian teenager Matteo Manasserro were tied for second.
McIlroy knows he’s got a challenge ahead on Sunday.
“It’s nice to hole the that putt on the ninth and finish on a positive note,” McIlroy said. “I’ve still got the lead but it is going to be a long day tomorrow. Twenty-seven holes in the heat is going to be tough.”
Defending champion Noh Seung-yul of South Korea finished at 145 in the second round, missing the cut by one stroke.
“My swing was horrible and the ball was flying everywhere,” Noh said. “I changed my swing two months ago, and I had an injury to my finger as well.”
Officials from the Asian and European Tours, which co-sanction the tournament, are expected to decide Sunday whether to extend the Malaysian Open to Monday for the first time. In 2006, the tournament at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club was shortened to 54 holes because of heavy rain.