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A fast start, slow turn and gutsy finish added up to a 1-under 69 for Rory McIlroy in the third round of the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club on Saturday. Matching his effort from the second round, the world No. 3 has firmly cemented his name in the mix heading into the final round of the second major championship of the year inside the top 10 as he aims to break a nine-year winless drought on the game's grandest stage.

McIlroy got the people of Rochester, New York, where he's seen as an adopted son, going early and often. Flagging the pins at the par-3 3rd and the par-5 5th with long iron in hand, the 34-year-old quickly ascended the leaderboard in the worst of the rainy conditions. With biblical rain falling from the heavens, Oak Hill proved to be a more difficult test than days past. 

Just as the precipitation began to lighten, McIlroy entered the most feared stretch on the golf course. Timing was poor and hiccups were inevitable, but even McIlroy would want a few swings back as three bogeys were littered across holes 6-9. Suddenly, all the work from the first five holes was lost and the Northern Irishman was once again playing catch up over the inward nine.

Catch up he did. Failed birdie attempts from inside 20 feet on 10 and 11 preceded a race to the finish line similar to that from Friday afternoon. Utilizing the slope on his approach to access the pin on the 12th, McIlroy connected from just inside five feet to return to even par for the day and for the tournament.

Another birdie on the par-5 13th quickly followed, and while McIlroy was unable to bowl a turkey, he certainly got his money's worth with his up-and-down on the 15th. Missing badly on the short par 3, the four-time major champion's tee shot found the tight run-off area below the putting surface.

McIlroy converted his par save from just outside 10 feet below the pin and maintained what momentum he had garnered unlike the outward half. He parlayed his good vibes into another his fifth and final par breaker of the round on 16 before righting the ship coming home.

A decent bogey on the 17th and solid par on the 18th put the finishing touches on McIlroy's second consecutive 69. This under-par effort has McIlroy's name inside the top 10 and firmly in the conversation with 18 holes to unfold.

For McIlroy to claim his fifth major championship and first since 2014, he will need to do so from the chaser position. Known throughout his career to be a fantastic front-runner, McIlroy has mostly been successful holding major championship fields at bay. He did so in his four prior triumphs, but the tables now must be turned.

McIlroy has turned in 30 all too often in major championships, just never from a threatening position. He is now in that position and can certainly threaten if he can channel the guts and gumption from his past three days at Oak Hill.

Rick Gehman is joined by Kyle Porter and Patrick McDonald to break down a wet and eventful moving day at the 2023 PGA Championship. Brooks Koepka makes a move and Viktor Hovland remains near the top of the board. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.