McIlroy builds three-shot lead at Irish Open

Welshman Dredge made the early move with birdies on the second, third and fourth before Knox reduced the lead to two with an eagle on the fourth from 20 feet as McIlroy birdied the same hole.

The World Number Three will return to the 16th hole at 7.30am local time on Sunday morning to complete his third round, as will overnight leader Willett, who dropped back to six under par after mixing three bogeys with one birdie in his 15 holes. It was a huge turning point", said McIlroy, who added it was hard for him to keep his focus "when there's 30,000 people roaring you on.

After the pair exchange pars over the next three holes, the siren was sounded again at 6.24pm with McIlroy just off the 14th green, with the world No 3 getting up-and-down to save par when play restarted 90 minutes later.

McIlroy, his playing partner, birdied the same hole to retain his three-shot advantage before Knox birdied the 5th to reduce the gap, with both players then dropping a shot on the 6th.

McIlroy trailed Scotland's Russell Knox by one shot with three holes to play but outstanding second shots at the 16th and 18th helped him to the birdie and eagle which saw him win by three.

He found the bunker off the tee on the 16th, though, and when McIlroy hit a stunning 271-yard three wood to reach the green in two for a birdie, three puts from Knox resulted in a two-shot swing.

Despite two suspensions due to the threat of lightning and heavy downpours at The K Club, the tournament Host kept the bogeys off his card - and was the only player to do so - before fast fading light led to play eventually being abandoned at 8.29pm.

Surprisingly play restarted shortly before 8pm, but McIlroy completed just two more holes as more rain fell and the decision was finally taken to abandon play for the day, with a restart scheduled for 0730 on Sunday.

"I felt like I had two good opportunities there on 16 and 18 to make birdies and didn't birdie either of them". "Now I would just like to build upon and go one better at the PGA at Wentworth".

Germany's Martin Kaymer powered through the field on the closing day with a 65 to finish in a tie for fifth, but Masters champion Danny Willett, in contention overnight, slumped to a five-over 77.

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