Rory McIlroy is just 18 holes away from making the perfect start to 2019.
The Northern Irishman enters the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii just three shots behind leader Gary Woodland.
A win would give McIlroy, 29, his 15th PGA Tour title and his first since the Arnold Palmer Invitational last March.
He had other chances last year, of course. Six times, in fact, he featured in the final group – but on all six occasions, he failed to come away with the win, his Arnold Palmer victory coming from the penultimate group.
Playing alongside Woodland in the final pairing today, McIlroy says he’s interested to see if he “has learned anything”.
“I don't enter tournaments just to show up,” he said after his third round 68 at Kapalua. “I enter them to try to come and win. I worked hard over the last few weeks trying to get ready for this event and get ready for the start of the year. So, yeah, it's nice that everything's going to plan.
“Again, another final group is great. Especially coming off the back of not being able to play as well as I would have liked in final groups last year. So, to get myself right back in contention and see if I've learned anything from last year and try to put that into practice is great”.
If he is to avoid extending his final group winless streak to seven events, McIlroy reckons one virtue will be especially important today.
“Just being patient,” he said. “It's 18 holes. A lot can happen in 18 holes. I've been six ahead a with seven to play and just crept over the line and I've been five behind with nine to play and had a chance to win on the last green. So, a lot can change in a final round.”