SHANGHAI – Rory McIlroy spun a wedge down to 3 feet for birdie on his final hole for a clean card at a 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead over Louis Oosthuizen on a Saturday of big runs and ugly collapses.
Oosthuizen opened with five straight birdies and closed with two birdies in his last three holes for a 65.
McIlroy was at 15-under 201 as he goes for his fourth victory of the year and tries to move a little closer to the No. 1 ranking.
Li Haotong of China had a robust crowd going early with five birdies through six holes to take the lead, only to shoot 42 on the back nine for a 74 that knocked him out of contention.
McIlroy had no such troubles and was rarely in trouble aside from an 8-foot par save on the opening hole and a 6-footer for par after hitting wedge just short into the bunker.
He didn't miss a fairway from the third hole until the par-5 18th, where he had to play short of the water before hitting a towering lob wedge that caught the ridge with enough spin to roll back toward the cup.
Defending champion Xander Schauffele felt a little better in his battle to recover from the flu, and it showed early when he opened with three straight birdies and missed an 8-foot putt that would have been four in a row. He overcame a few mistakes around the turn and finished with three straight birdies for a 68 to finish two off the lead.
This is the only World Golf Championships event where no one has won back-to-back, and Schauffele is in the best shape to try to keep the WGCs in American hands for the eighth straight time.
He was tied at 13-under with Matt Fitzpatrick (70).
Eight players were within five shots of the lead, including Sungjae Im (70) and Match Play champion Kevin Kisner (67).
LPGA: In Taipei, Taiwan, defending champion Nelly Korda shot a 7-under 65 to take a three-stroke lead after the third round of the LPGA Swinging Skirts.
Korda, who started the third round one stroke back of overnight leader Mi Jung Hur, carded seven birdies at the par-72 Miramar Golf Country Club to finish at 18-under 198, three strokes ahead of Minjee Lee, who shot a 67.
Caroline Masson shot 66 and was in third place, four strokes behind.
Jin Young Ko, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, withdrew during the third round. She was 2 over after 10 holes and 5 over on the tournament. No immediate reason was given for her withdrawal.
PGA: In Southampton, Bermuda, Harry Higgs birdied the par-3 16th and par-4 18th for his second straight 6-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead in the PGA Tour's inaugural Bermuda Championship. He had a 17-under 196 total.
Higgs is making his sixth start of his rookie season after winning on the Korn Ferry Tour and finishing fifth on the developmental tour's regular-season points list to earn PGA Tour card.
Brendon Todd, tied for the second-round lead with Higgs and Scottie Scheffler, was second after a 67.
CHAMPIONS: In Thousand Oaks, California, Retief Goosen shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead over Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer into the final round of the Invesco QQQ Championship, the second event in the PGA Tour Champions' Charles Schwab Cup playoffs.
Goosen, the 50-year-old South African, had a 10-under 134 total.