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Rory McIlroy plays way back into the mix with 2-under 68 on Saturday

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MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Following a second-round 76, Rory McIlroy probably wasn’t thinking about his Sunday chances at the U.S. Open. But calmer afternoon conditions on Day 3 and a clutch opening nine altered that outlook.

McIlroy made the turn on Saturday in 2 under par and finished with a 68 to move to 1 over par for the week. With the leaders just making the turn upon his conclusion, that left the Northern Irishman six shots back, which under normal circumstances might feel insurmountable, but these aren’t normal circumstances.

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“If Matt [Wolff] pars his way in and is 5 under par, I still don't think that's out of it by any stretch of the imagination,” McIlroy said. “It doesn't take much around here if someone gets off to a decent start, maybe 1 or 2 under through five and then the leader goes the other way, 1 or 2 over through five, and all of a sudden you're right in the thick of things.”

U.S. Open Day 3: McIlroy all over the pin at No. 7

U.S. Open Day 3: McIlroy all over the pin at No. 7

That's exactly what happened. Wolff shot 5-under 65 to finish at 5 under par. He leads Bryson DeChambeau by two strokes entering the final round, with Louis Oosthuizen, at 1 under, the only other player under par. There are only five players ahead of McIlroy and he's only two shots off third place.

McIlroy also said he actually picked up momentum to close out his second-round 76, which lifted him back into contention on Saturday.

“I felt like I finished the round well yesterday. I was sort of hemorrhaging after like 12 or 13 holes, and then to just par my way in, sort of regroup, and then I sort of started the same way today,” he said. “I played a really nice stretch of holes there from the 14th last night to the ninth today. I played those holes in 2 under par.”