McIroy gets close to double windfall

Rory McIlroy celebrates an eagle on the 18th hole during day three of the 2014 Open Championship. Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Rory McIlroy celebrates an eagle on the 18th hole during day three of the 2014 Open Championship. Peter Byrne/PA Wire

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Rory McIlroy, the Ulster golfer who is in a good place to win the prestigious Open Championship on Sunday, can win £975,000 with victory at Royal Liverpool, but his father would also have another reason to celebrate.

Ten years ago 25-year-old McIlroy’s dad Gerry and three friends each placed a £100 bet at odds of 500/1 that his son would become Open champion before he turned 26.

That would mean a windfall of £200,000 in total for the quartet if McIlroy can turn a six-shot lead into the third major title of his career at the 143rd Open Championship.

The star player from Holywood in Co Down has won each of his two majors by eight shots, the first in the US Open at Congressional in 2011 and the second in the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island the following year.

However, in 2011 McIlroy also took a four-shot lead into the final round of the Masters at Augusta before collapsing to a closing 80, while he himself won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth this year from seven shots behind with 18 holes remaining.

Golf pundits say McIlroy is taking nothing for granted despite a third-round 68 giving him a six-shot cushion heading into the final day.

The Northern Irishman has been majestic all week and while he could not match his back-to-back 66s on Saturday, this round was arguably more impressive because of the way he responded to the challenge.

When American Rickie Fowler birdied the 12th - picking up his sixth shot of the day - he drew level with McIlroy on 12 under.

Within four holes the gap was extended to five after McIlroy eagled the 16th and another eagle at the last edged the gap wider even taking into account Fowler’s birdie there moments earlier.

Meanwhile, Spain’s Sergio Garcia has all-but conceded the Open Championship to the masterful McIlroy after admitting he is almost impossible to catch in this form.

McIlroy has one hand on the Claret Jug and his Ryder Cup team-mate accepts it will take something outstanding to prevent him taking full possession on Sunday.

“If Rory plays the way he has been playing it is difficult to see any way to catch him,” said Garcia.

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