McIlroy turns on style in pursuit of Casey

Rory McIlroy has not got where he is in such a staggeringly short space of time by weighing up a challenge on a Sunday morning and concluding: "Nope. Impossible. Back to bed." Yet even Master Indefatigable might arrive here today and concede that the odds are stacked against him, and indeed anyone but Paul Casey, winning the BMW PGA Championship.

Casey is three ahead of the Dane Soren Kjeldsen, four clear of McIlroy and on 13-under is looking every inch the world No 3 he will become if and when he collects the £667,000 first prize here this evening. A 67 in yesterday's third round was quite magnificently assembled. It was bogeyless and – but for a blip of two three-putts on the last two greens – nerveless and screamed of a professional at the very top of his game. Nobody need tell McIlroy of Casey's remarkable start to 2009.

The 20-year-old does not just have the secret of golf at his magical fingertips, but also the stats. Listen to him reeling off the Casey factfile.

"Paul started off this year at 41st in the world and if he wins tomorrow he'll be up to third," said McIlroy. "He won in Abu Dhabi in January, Houston in April and in between finished runner-up to Geoff Ogilvy in the World Match Play. Let's just say he's playing fantastically and will be very hard to beat."

Still, if anyone is capable of it – and his name is not Tiger Woods – then it could just be McIlroy, who would at 20 years and 20 days become the youngest winner in the event's 54-year history. Certainly his 65 on this benign Saturday was the stuff of stirring fightbacks.

On Thursday, he complained of "not trusting my swing" and of "not seeing the shots". It is fair to deduce he trusts his swing now. And the shots? Well, he happens to be seeing them with all the vividness of a fortune-teller in a Tardis.

"That was very close to my very best," said McIlroy. "I hit all the shots I wanted to. I was fading it off the tees, drawing it off the tees, hitting all the shots. There was a moment out there, when I sort of felt that, yeah, I was back to nearly 100 per cent.

"It was on the par-three fifth and I hit a five-iron up into the air, started it on the TV tower and turned it back right on to the pin. It was exactly what I said to my caddie I'd do. And I turned to him and said, 'That was very, very good'."

It summed up his day. Five birdies arrived on the back nine for the week's best score.

It was a mightily impressive charge by the young man and one that an old man threatened to emulate. Colin Montgomerie, now ranked all the way down at 182nd, skipped through the first 12 holes in five-under par and, at that stage, he was tied for second. Alas, bogeys at the 13th, 15th and 16th saw the momentum switch. So the skip turned into a slouch, the smile into a scowl and when he only birdied one of the two closing par-five holes, a 65 had turned into a 69.

At five under for the tournament, Montgomerie knew his fate. "It's disappointing as I had a good chance of getting into contention but now I'm far too far back," he said. "All that is left to play for is to make it respectable." He might even wish to preserve some energy while he is doing it. Tomorrow Montgomerie will be teeing it up at Walton Heath in the 36-hole US Open qualifier.

As will Nick Dougherty. The 27-year-old's 67 moved him up to the same mark as Monty and proved he is clearly in form. Indeed, the BBC were impressed enough to invite him up to the commentary booth. Dougherty refused and was heard to say, "I'm not going if he's there. "

The "he" referred to was the veteran commentator Peter Alliss. A year ago at this event the pair were involved in a slanging match – conducted, as ever, in the press – after Dougherty had taken exception to some of Alliss's on-air criticisms. Dougherty labelled Alliss "out of touch" and Alliss responded by labelling Dougherty "so bloody delicate". The feud goes on. As does Casey.

Tip of the week

No 2: Pitching: Don't be afraid of the "bounce"

All golfers fear the thinned shot across the green and they blame the sand wedge for having too much bounce. But using a wedge with too little bounce can lead to a lifetime of heavy 'fatted' shots.

Using your sand wedge, position 70 per cent of your weight on to your left side (for right-handers) with the ball towards the right foot, with a narrow stance.

Open your stance a little (to the left) and make a steep backswing. With a steep downward blow, feel like the back part of the club's flange strikes the ground under the ball (not the leading edge).

You are now using the club's bounce and you will see a high- flying, soft-landing shot, with ample follow-through.

Simon Iliffe, Head Professional, Purley Downs GC, Surrey

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate