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Irish duo keep world at bay

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell underlined their potential as a Ryder Cup pairing with a four-under-par 68 in the foursomes at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup yesterday. Their effort maintained Ireland's three-stroke advantage going into this morning's fourballs.

After posting a brilliant 58 on Friday, McIlroy expressed the hope that the European Ryder Cup captain, Colin Montgomerie, was watching. And while that round of 14 under is destined to be the highlight of the week, yesterday's battling display in the tougher format emphasised their bond.

"Everyone knows I'd love to play with Graeme in the Ryder Cup – there would be nothing better," said McIlroy, who won three out of four matches with his fellow Ulsterman in Great Britain and Ireland's Vivendi Trophy victory in September.

"We would make a great team. It wasn't the easiest of 68s, but we ground it out and we put together a good score," McIlroy added

Ireland led by five shots at the turn, but the defending champions, Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson, of Sweden, mounted a late charge to move into second with a seven-under 65. McDowell plunged his approach at the 15th into the water for a double-bogey but two closing birdies helped cement the Irish lead.