Golf

McIlroy fights back, Hoffman makes miracle putt

Rory McIlroy made a charge into contention, but Charley Hoffman closed with a 70-foot birdie putt to match Kevin Kisner for the lead after the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Hoffman curled in the shot of the tournament at the US PGA event on Orlando's famed Bay Hill course to cap a closing run of three consecutive birdies to join his American compatriot on 11-under 205 through 54 holes.

McIlroy, preparing his bid for a Masters win next month that would give him a career Grand Slam, fired a seven-under par 65 to stand on 210 in a share of eighth after a 74-71 start to the week.

"At least I've given myself a decent chance," McIlroy said.

"At least I'm in with a shout and, if I get off to a fast start, I can be right in there.

"Hopefully the wind starts to get up and I can be somewhere close to the lead tomorrow (this morning, Singapore time)."

And it was a good sign as the world No. 3 looks towards a possible fifth Major title and quest for a first Green Jacket in just three weeks at Augusta National.

Kisner missed the green to bogey at the par-3 second, but answered with four birdies over the next six holes - his longest birdie putt in the run from 18 feet at the third.

He opened the back nine with another birdie and added another at the par-5 16th, but missed a seven-foot par putt in bogeying the 18th.

Kisner's last-hole mishap opened the door for Hoffman, who started with back-to-back bogeys and added another pair at 14 and 15 before ending with a seven-foot birdie at 16, a 12-footer at 17 and his shocker at 18. - AFP


LEADING SCORES

  • 205: Kevin Kisner 70-67-68, Charley Hoffman 68-66-71
  • 208: Tyrell Hatton 72-69-67, Marc Leishman 71-66-71, Matthew Fitzpatrick 67-69-72
  • 209: Adam Hadwin 70-70-69, Lucas Glover 68-69-72
  • 210: Rory McIlroy 74-71-65, Kyle Stanley 73-68-69, Greg Chalmers 69-72-69
  • 211: Rickie Fowler 74-72-65, Justin Rose 71-70-70, Paul Casey 68-72-71, Harold Varner 70-70-71