McIlroy will face stiff test at Valhalla

Then there areĀ  Phil Mickelson and Jason Day just 3 shots back, lurking on a course that is giving up birdies by the bushel and seemingly won't allow anyone to sit back and protect.

"You have to go out there and make birdies," Mickelson said. "You just have to get a hot hand."

McIlroy has been on fire for a month, dominating courses with excellent driving that has put him in position for short irons to greens. But it's more than just that. McIlroy has hit a few errant ones this week as well, a good example coming at the fourth hole on Saturday, where he severely pulled his tee shot and somehow managed to make a par. That he followed it on the next hole with a birdie is a big factor in prevailing.

Then there is his putting, long considered the so-called weakness in his game. Truth be told, for much of his eight-year professional career, McIlroy has simply been average on the greens. Putting has not saved him as much as it could, and only when he's gotten hot on putting surfaces has he stood out. Streaky, you might call it.

"He's putting so much better," said Justin Rose. "His stroke looks so much better than it did about a year ago. I don't know what changes he's made, but his stroke looks great now. No matter how well you play, you've always got to convert on the greens."

When things got a bit edgy on Saturday, McIlroy managed to birdie three of the last four holes. His advantage this time is just 1 shot over Wiesberger, but 1 is better than none.

"I've got one more day to give it everything I have," McIlroy said. "Of course it takes a toll. It takes a toll mentally. Physically as well because you're not teeing off until pretty late and you're not getting back to your house ... it puts you out of your routine a bit.

"But hopefully that won't play any sort of part."

So far, McIlroy has handled all of it just fine.

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