Rory McIlroy continued his dominance in the 2011 U.S. Open with a third round score of 68, pushing his lead to eight shots and setting himself up for his first major championship victory.
McIlroy increased his overnight lead by two shots as he methodically and patiently worked his way around Congressional Country Club Saturday. His 54-hole score of 199 is a U.S. Open record.
Supportive patrons chanted, "Let's go, Rory!" time and again as a seemingly calm McIlroy became the first player ever to get to 14 under par at a U.S. Open.
The only drama that remains in the 111th playing of this championship is whether McIlroy will wither under the final round pressure as he did at The Masters Tournament two months ago.
Look at the similarities.
At Augusta, McIlroy's first three rounds were 65-69-70. On Sunday at that tournament, he quickly went from an 11 under par leader to four under par and a 15th place tie with a closing score of 80.
At Congressional this past week, McIlroy carded rounds of 65-66-68. If history repeats itself, a large number of talented players—including Y.E. Yang, Jason Day, Robert Garrigus, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar and others—will suddenly be in the mix.
It would be catastrophic, to say the least. But I don't see it happening.
McIlroy doesn't, either.
"From the experience I had at Augusta, I know now how to approach tomorrow," he said during his post-round presser. "And I think that's the most important thing. I know what I need to do tomorrow."
I believe McIlroy is one who will learn from the mistakes he made at The Masters and avoid a repeat performance. He seems destined for a lengthy career of major championship successes rather than final round failures. And a victory at the U.S. Open will forever be known as his coming out party, just like Tiger Woods at The Masters Tournament in 1997.
Tiger Woods. Rory McIlroy. Those comparisons are certainly forthcoming.