The question is whether anyone else was paying attention.
"I hope so," McIlroy said. "I'm not so sure. The guys that are at the top of the leaderboard are really accomplished players, and I'm just one of a bunch of guys that can go out and win there tomorrow. But maybe. Maybe if they see my name on the leaderboard, they might start to think about it a little bit more."
Fowler, another 23-year-old, didn't look intimidated. There was a backup on the tee at the par-3 17th. Fowler hit a tight draw to a tough pin, and walking off the tee, looked back at McIlroy and nodded to him with a smile.
The only time Fowler won as pro was in the Korean Open, and it came at McIlroy's expense. More key for Fowler was the third round. It was only the third time in nine tries this year that he broke 70 in the third round, and those were his best finishes of the year.
"All in all, it was what we needed to do — moving day, moving in the right direction, and put myself into a position where we can go out and have a little bit of fun tomorrow," Fowler said.
Even so, the edge might go to McIlroy. He looks primed to go back to No. 1 for the third time this year. His game has looked sharper each day. And of the top 22 players going into the final round, he is the only player to have won this year.
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