Open Championship leader Rory McIlroy was taking nothing for granted as he went into Sunday’s final fourth round with a six-shot cushion.
The Northern Irishman has been majestic all week and while he could not match his back-to-back 66s on Saturday, this round 68 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.
The chasing pack may have little hope of catching the 25-year-old, who is looking to secure the third leg of a career grand slam having already won the US Open and US PGA, but he will not be complacent.
“I’ve won from seven back this year (at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth just four days after splitting from fiancee Caroline Wozniacki) so I know how leads can go very quickly and I’m not taking anything for granted,” he said.
“If the guys in front of me had finished a little better, finished the way I did, then my lead wouldn’t have been as much as it was.
“Instead of a six-shot lead it could have been a one or two-shot lead.
“A lot can happen and I’ve been on the right side of it and I’ve been on the wrong side of it, that’s why you can’t let yourself think about winning, you’ve just got to completely stay in the present and that’s what I’m going to try to do for all 18 holes on Sunday.”
McIlroy looked happy and relaxed during his post-round press conference and while the Claret Jug is effectively his to lose those sort of thoughts are not entering his head.
“This is the third night in a row that I’ll sleep on the lead. I feel very comfortable leading the tournament,” added the Northern Irishman, who pledged to maintain his routine of going to the gym, eating and then settling down to watch a film.
“It helps that I’ve been in this position before and I’ve been able to get the job done.
“I think whenever you have such a big lead you really can’t think about anyone else but yourself.
“You have to think about how you’re going to control your emotions, control whatever thoughts you have and focus on what you need to do.”