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Calm Storm leads McIlroy at South African Open

Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - England's Graeme Storm carded a faultless 67 for a 17-under-par total and a three-shot lead over world number two Rory McIlroy following the third round of the European Tour’s South African Open on Saturday.

Jordan Smith (68) of England and home golfer Jbe Kruger (69) are a further shot back on 13 under par for the tournament.

Storm, who has a single tour victory to his name at the French Open in 2007, sunk five birdies and has now gone 41 holes since last dropping a shot.

McIlroy, who has been suffering with back pain this week, was left frustrated by another poor finish to his round of 67. After bogeying 17 and 18 on Friday, he dropped a shot again on the last in the third round.

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He turned in 33 after an eagle on the par-four seventh hole and looked to be on the charge having sunk three birdies in his next four.

Yet the 27-year-old Northern Irishman missed an excellent birdie chance on the 15th hole and then could not sink a 20-foot putt on 18. He remains upbeat about his chances though.

“I’m very pleased,” McIlory told reporters. “I was in a bit of discomfort early on but the physio got me out to play. I started well and drove the ball well. I gave myself plenty of chances and took a few of them in the middle of the round like I did yesterday.

“It was a decent score, but I felt it could have been better. The finish was disappointing, not birdying 15 and then dropping a shot on the way in, but I’m still in with a shout tomorrow and that’s all I can ask.”

Storm only retained his European Tour membership card for 2017 after American Patrick Reed was removed from the money-list last year, having not played in the required number of five tournaments.

(Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)