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McIlroy defies weather to lead

The threat of lightning severely disrupted the third day of the Irish Open, but Rory McIlroy still managed to open up a three-shot lead

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Rory McIlroy opened up a three-shot lead in a weather-affected third round of the Irish Open at the K Club.

The threat of lightning and then rain meant that the penultimate round was suspended on two occasions, but McIlroy managed to move to nine-under after 15 holes before play was stopped for the day, going clear of overnight joint-leaders Danny Willett and Marc Warren in the process.

The world number three birdied the par-five fourth in order to take a clear lead, but 2016 Masters champion Willett hit back on the same hole to draw level again.

However, Willett dropped shots on six and seven - finishing for the day at two-over par with three holes to play - while McIlroy posted his only other gains on the 10th.

Warren carded 66 on Friday, but he was unable to maintain that form, six bogies contributing to him tumbling down the rankings to joint sixth. He will be eager to make amends when he picks up on the 15th on Sunday.

South Africa's Jaco van Zyl and England's Matthew Southgate also tumbled down the leaderboard amidst difficult conditions at the County Kildare course.

Richard Sterne and Russell Knox, meanwhile, are tied for third on five under having completed 15 and 18 holes respectively, with Tyrrell Hatton a further shot back.

McIlroy will be seeking his first victory of the season when play resumes on at 07:30 local time on Sunday, having secured top-10 finishes in his last six tournaments.

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