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Rory McIlroy insists a three-under-par round on moving day would give him a serious shot of winning The Open after a late Friday flourish at Royal Liverpool.

McIlroy sits nine shots behind early leader Brian Harman, who set a mightily impressive 10-under-par target at Hoylake with a sensational eagle on the 600-yard par-5 18th.

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Harman has suddenly emerged as the man to beat over the weekend on this Wirral links after the lowest round of tournament, a six-under-par 65.

And McIlroy was clinging on for much of his round in his marquee grouping with Jon Rahm and Justin Rose.

He battled throughout, hitting just 10 of 18 greens in regulation and relying on his scrambling to save his score.

But a fine up and down from the rough on the last edged him back into the red after his momentum had stalled with bogeys on the 11th and on the par-5 15th.

And it was the second time this week McIlroy saved a big moment on 18 after his gutsy par on Thursday evening.

“Both really important,” an upbeat McIlroy told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I hit two really good shots into the last night and to walk away with a bogey would have been devastating so to salvage a par there was a really nice way to end the day.

“And today, I bogeyed the 15th hole and it’s a hole that you really are looking to birdie, so to get that shot back with that great up and down at the last, it’s really good.I think under par in two days is two solid scores.

“Obviously I am quite a bit out of the lead right now but I think over the next two days, keep playing the way I’m playing and just convert a few more of those chances, hopefully I will be right there.”

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When asked what score he might require on Saturday to close in on the leaders, McIlroy said: “It all depends on the conditions. I think they’re maybe forecasting some rain and maybe similar sort of wind.

“If I can get myself to three or four under par after tomorrow, I think I’ll be right there going into the last day.”

On Harman’s formidable halfway score, McIlroy told reporters: “It played really, really tough. Ten-under par is unbelievably impressive out there. We’ll see what the weekend holds. But after two days I’m actually pretty happy with my two days’ work.

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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