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McIlroy stays ahead of crowded PGA Championship leaderboard

McIlroy clings to lead at PGA third round
McIlroy clings to lead at PGA third round
Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

The PGA Championship leaderboard is unlike those of the last few majors. In fact, the PGA Championship may be the first major of the year to truly go down to the wire, or at least have such a massively crowded leaderboard. This may also be uncharted territory for Rory McIlroy, who is the sole leader over a group of contenders after the third round on August 9, but could have to fight to the finish at a major for the first time.

McIlroy didn't blow open the PGA Championship in the second or third round, like he did in his past three major victories. He didn't make many mistakes, but he couldn't put together a hot streak while several golfers breathed down his neck. In the end, McIlroy needed three birdies in the last four holes, including one at 18, to take sole possession of the lead back at -13 overall.

His final score of -4 for the third round was the same as his second round, and ended in him having a one-shot lead once again. This time around, he is clinging to the lead over unknown Bernd Wiesberger, with Rickie Fowler in third place at -11, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day tied for fourth at -10, and Henrik Stenson and Louis Oosthuizen among four players tied for sixth at -9.

Adam Scott, Jim Furyk and Lee Westwood are among several at -7, yet they will need a red hot final round and massive help. Given how crowded the leaderboard has been all week, there could be room for one or two more final challengers. With the amount of golfers in striking distance, it will take a lot for the PGA Championship not to go down to the final hole.

McIlroy had blown out the field by the 72'nd hole of the 2011 U.S. Open, 2012 PGA Championship and 2014 British Open. Winning a close major, his second in a row and third straight tournament overall will go a long way towards solidifying him as golf's undisputed No. 1. After that, the only thing missing on his resume would be a Masters win.

Today, it is a second PGA Championship that is McIlroy's main goal, while Mickelson also seeks his second and Wiesberger, Fowler, Day, Stenson and Oosthuizen go for their first. Coverage starts at 2 p.m. est on CBS, with McIlroy and Wiesberger teeing off at 2:55.