McIlroy shot 65 early on Saturday to sit just outside the top 10 (©GettyImages)
McIlroy shot 65 early on Saturday to sit just outside the top 10 (©GettyImages).

Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson make moves at Quail Hollow

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Rory McIlroy gave himself hope of a first victory on the PGA Tour since 2012 after his third-round 65 left him seven back of American J.B. Holmes at the Wells Fargo Championship. 

The Northern Irishman made five birdies in his opening eight holes to turn in 32 and made three further gains on the back nine to card a round of seven under and move up 58 places through the field.

He will be hoping for some birthday luck on Sunday as the now 25-year-old Holywood golfer looks to end an 18-month drought on the American circuit. 

England's Justin Rose is also in contention at minus nine - four back of Holmes - as he eventually carded 71, mixing three bogeys with two birdies and an eagle. Germany's Martin Kaymer showed encouraging signs of a resurgence as he moved to eight under with a resolute round of 70. 

Round of the day, however, went to Phil Mickelson as he left himself two strokes back of Holmes' lead with a stunning 63 that included an outward nine of 29 at Quail Hollow. From the third to the eighth, the five-time major champion recorded five birdies and an eagle to the delight of the North Carolina patrons. 

A slightly less spectacular back nine followed but further birdies at 13 and 15 left the 43 year old just two off the pace going into Sunday's final round, looking for his first win of the 2014 season. 

Meanwhile, world number 226 Martin Flores is one back of Holmes at -12 after a disappointing bogey at the last meant a 69 for the overnight leader. 

It will be Holmes everyone is chasing, though, as he fired a 66 containing seven birdies and just a solitary bogey to take the 54-hole lead at 13 under. 

He will partner Flores in the final group as both go in search of respectively important victories. Holmes is chasing his third title but first in six years in the US, while Flores will become yet another first-time winner if he were to overcome the leaders' one-stroke advantage. 

In 2011, Holmes underwent brain surgery to correct a Chiari malformation, while he has also suffered a broken ankle and surgery on his elbow in an injury-plagued few years for the Kentucky-born 32-year-old. 

"It would be a great accomplishment to come back and get a win in the bag," he said post-round. 

"I'm looking forward to it; I'm just happy to be out here and I'll go out tomorrow and do the best I can and if I win that's great. If it ends up not being my day, then I'm just thankful to be out here and happy to have the opportunity that I have."

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Justin Rose
Phil Mickleson
PGA Tour
Rory McIlroy

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