British Open: Rory McIlroy six clear after three rounds
Atlanta, Ga (CNN) — The British Open is Rory McIlroy's to lose.
On a day when the weather finally bared its teeth at Royal Liverpool after six hazy days of sunshine, so did the Northern Irishman.
At one stage of this historic championship round --- with two tees in operation for the first time ever --- another dynamic 25-year-old threatened the fairytale Merseyside wants to see.
Rickie Fowler tied McIlroy for the lead as the two-time champion toiled amid the thick and unforgiving rough of Hoylake's 12th hole.
But that seemed the catalyst for the home favorite to turn on the afterburners, as two eagles and a birdie on his final three holes wrested the famed Claret Jug closer to his clubhouse locker.
The roar that followed his three on the final green was of the pitch one expects to greet the winning putt.
It may well prove to be the telling blow.
A six-shot lead going into a Sunday that should see a return to the benign weather of the first two days means a third major of McIlroy's fledgling career is within touching distance.
Fowler couldn't maintain the furious pace he'd set in the early part of the day. Seven birdies drew him level with McIlroy before three bogeys halted a gallant charge.
He will make up a final group with a combined age 14 years junior to five-time Open champion Tom Watson, who sits on five-over for the tournament.
Spain's Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson, from America, both lie on nine-under with Frenchman Victor Dubuisson a further shot behind.
But realistically, McIlroy is odds on to claim a first British Open title, his third major, and entry to an exclusive club.
Only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods managed to win three majors in the modern era by the age of 25. On Sunday, McIlroy could make twosome a supremely talented hat-trick.