McIlroy leads at RBC Heritage

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Rory McIlroy’s education on Pete Dye is ongoing.

He’s becoming more comfortable with the late golf architect’s creation on Hilton Head Island after more than a decade away. He’s 10 under par after three rounds of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing at Harbour Town Golf Links.

“The last two days here (are) the first two times I’ve shot under par on this golf course, so it’s taken a while to learn it,” McIlroy said after a 5-under-par 66 Saturday. “Yeah, Whistling Straits, for example, the same thing. Just playing the course a bit more and getting more comfortable with lines and seeing your shots a bit better. Yeah, the more you play Pete Dye golf courses, the more you get comfortable on them.”

Record low scoring at Harbour Town and a packed leaderboard seemed to work against McIlroy’s chances to overtake the leaders Sunday.

Four players are 15-under-par 198 after three rounds. That’s one shot higher than Justin Leonard’s 54-hole record from 2002.

Only nine players of 75 were over par Saturday.

The 4-under-par cut line after 36 holes was the lowest in tournament history. The six rounds of 63 that had been fired by mid-afternoon Saturday are a tournament record for a single round.

Brian Gay’s 20-under winning total in 2009 is in jeopardy as soft conditions and little wind have welcome an onslaught from the world’s best players.

Some of the biggest names in golf are at Harbour Town as an unusual PGA Tour season disrupted by the coronavirus resumes.

Among the leaders at 15-under is Webb Simpson, who has three top-10 finishes at Harbour Town. He shot 3-under 68, which might seem pedestrian among the low numbers.

But Simpson said it was a decent score under tougher conditions in the afternoon.

“Today played like typical Harbour Town, I thought — windy, some gusts, some tricky shots,” Simpson said. “The golf course burned up completely there on the back nine.”

Experience might not matter on the crowded board. The past four years the Heritage was won by first-time PGA Tour winners.

A couple of stars playing the Heritage for the first time are hanging around on the weekend.

Second-ranked Jon Rahm is 9-under, and Brooks Koepka finished 12-under.

Also 12-under is S.C. native Dustin Johnson, who added the RBC Heritage back to his schedule after his partnership with the title sponsor.

Justin Thomas is also 9 under but said his 66 on Saturday could have been lower with a better reads on the greens.

“Every time I felt like I had them read correctly, I didn’t,” said Thomas, No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking. “But it was good to hit some really quality shots off the tee and into the green.”


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