McIlroy's US PGA charge cut off in its prime

Briton moves to top of leaderboard with Woods losing his way before storms strike US PGA

kiawah island

Two storms battered the US PGA Championship yesterday. Unfortunately, the evil purple one the size of Northern Ireland stole Rory McIlroy's thunder and rained on the parade of the storm he was whipping up across the Ocean Course.

McIlroy was leading at six under par when the horn sounded to warn that the end of the world was nigh. The 23-year-old world No 3 had just blown away the front nine in four under par, only 32 shots, when play was suspended. It was rotten timing. Momentum was with him as he channelled the vintage 2011 form that won the US Open last year by eight shots. Need proof that luck, however, is ultimately with him? McIlroy whacked his drive at the third into a tree. He thought it was lost until a TV camera crew spotted it plugged inside a knot in one of the branches.

The only player delighted with the delay was Tiger Woods. He began fighting to keep control of his swing again, falling off balance and pulling strange body contortions like Norman Wisdom. The world No 2 was three over par through seven holes and back to one under for the championship. As 30,000 spectators scampered for cover, they will at least have the bonus of returning today for Super Sunday when the leaders will play at least 27 holes to decide the 94th US PGA champion.

But world No 1 Luke Donald is not among them. Donald thought he had turned the corner in his quest to find that elusive first major after finishing fifth at the Open last month. But that corner has merely led straight down another de sac.

While disappointed to be teeing off at the back of the field, sneaking into the weekend's play on the cut at six over par, Donald was not despondent despite a third-round two-over-par 74. "I said before the Open I needed to be less uptight heading to the first tee, not put so much pressure on myself as the world No 1," Donald said.

"And I think I succeeded in that, at Lytham and here. I have dealt with my anxiety [at the majors] and, with some of the right breaks, I could be really close this week. For some reason, the golfing gods have not been on my side."

But that's 38 majors, now, for Donald without a victory. "The majors have been disappointing," he said. "I had an outside sniff at the Open but other than that I haven't really been in contention." Looking ahead to the final round, Donald showed the fighting spirit that has taken him to the top of the world rankings. "Pete Dye [the Ocean Course's designer is just kicking my ass," Donald said. "I need to try to get the score back to 1-1 against the course."

At least Donald and McIlroy are certain to qualify for Europe's Ryder Cup team when the top 10 players are finalised in three weeks. Ian Poulter is 12th in the rankings but has virtually been given the nod by captain Jose-Maria Olazabal that he will receive one of his two wild card picks. Poulter might not need one if he continues to hole putts at the Ocean Course. He was two under par when the monsoon came.

A top-five finish would knock Sergio Garcia out of the team but the Spaniard, who missed the cut, is another who has all-but been guaranteed his place on the plane to Chicago in September via a wild card if he does fall through the trap door of the 10th and final automatic position.

Padraig Harrington, however, has pretty much been told by Olazabal that he needs to qualify to make the team. The Irishman is 19th on the Ryder Cup points table.

Harrington gave the impression he was rather irritated by Olazabal's public declaration of what was expected of him. On the eve of his third round, the 40-year-old, who has slipped to No 63 in the world rankings, was asked what he thought of Olazabal throwing down the gauntlet. "There certainly isn't very much room for a pick for me," he said. "Obviously Ian Poulter is going to get one and, you know, there's one left. Obviously I'm not in the reckoning as it stands."

Olazabal said Harrington would have to do something extraordinary. "Would a 59 be extraordinary enough?" Harrington said laughing. A 59 on this monster of a course is crazy talk but Harrington set off for the third round in the mood to shove something down Olazabal's throat. He played the front nine in four under par before swallowing a double bogey at the 10th. He then chipped in to birdie the 17th and got up and down from 35 yards at the 18th to finish at one under par.

How's that for Ryder Cup pyrotechnics? Humble pie is on the menu. It's just not yet certain whether it will be Olazabal or Harrington who will require the knife and fork.

Early third round scores

214 Steve Stricker (US) 74 73 67

215 Jimmy Walker (US) 73 75 67

216 Geoff Ogilvy (Aus) 68 78 70

217 Bill Haas (US) 75 73 69

218 Justin Rose (Eng) 69 79 70; Jason Dufner (US) 74 76 68; Greg Chalmers (Aus) 70 76 72; Bubba Watson (US) 73 75 70

219 J J Henry (US) 72 77 70; Jim Furyk (US) 72 77 70; John Senden (Aus) 73 74 72; Paul Lawrie (GB) 73 75 71; Ben Curtis (US) 69 77 73; Louis Oosthuizen (SA) 70 79 70.

220 Alexander Noren (Swe) 67 80 73; Ernie Els (SA) 72 75 73; Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 75 74 71; Rich Beem (US) 72 76 72

221 Charl Schwartzel (SA) 70 77 74; Robert Garrigus (US) 74 73 74; Y E Yang (S Kor) 73 74 74; Brendon De Jonge (US) 71 78 72; Sang-moon Bae (S Kor) 72 78 71; Darren Clarke (GB) 73 76 72; Gary Woodland 67 79 75; K J Choi (S Kor) 69 77 75

222 Dustin Johnson (US) 71 79 72; Matthew Every (US) 72 76 74; David Toms (US) 72 78 72

223 Noh Seung-yul (S Kor) 74 75 74; Retief Goosen (SA) 73 75 75; Thomas Bjorn (Den) 70 79 74; Ken Duke (US) 71 78 74; Chez Reavie (US) 74 76 73

224 Luke Donald (Eng) 74 76 74; Cameron Tringale (US) 69 78 77

225 Ryo Ishikawa (Japan) 69 77 79

226 Toru Taniguchi (Japan) 72 76 78

227 George McNeill (US) 71 76 80; Marcus Fraser (Aus) 74 75 78

229 John Huh (Kor) 72 78 79

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
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

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone