|Published:||Nov 26, 2011 11:00 AM EST|
|Updated:||Nov 27, 2011 7:30 AM EST|
HAINAN, China (AP) - Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell will head into the final round of the World Cup with a two-stroke lead after a convincing performance for Ireland in the fourballs on Saturday.
The Irish duo hit eight birdies to finish the third round with an 8 under 64, and a 21 under total of 195 at the Mission Hills complex.
However, second-ranked McIlroy and 2010 U.S. Open champion McDowell will be unable to rest easy Sunday with the threatening presence of Germany, South Africa and a resurgent United States all tied for second on 197.
Germany's surge up the leaderboard caught the eye of the modest crowds who endured the squally conditions.
Martin Kaymer and Alex Cekja sank 11 birdies in their 11 under 61 on the Blackstone course carved out of cooled lava rock.
"We saw the scoreboard on the sixth green and we saw Germany were off to a flyer," McDowell said. "We actually expected that today. We are probably a little disappointed that we couldn't pick up a couple more shots on the way in. We really could have put a little bit of daylight between us and the chasing pack."
McDowell needed no reminding about what faces the Ireland team on Sunday.
"We are going to have to go and play well tomorrow - it's as simple as that," he said.
Germany's feat was matched by South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen who also managed a 61.
The U.S. team of Gary Woodland and Matt Kuchar laid their claim to the trophy with 10 birdies and one bogey in a 9 under 63.
"Today was a great day. We ham and egged it pretty well," Woodland said. "Matt really got us going early. I was kind of all over the place, and he made a birdie on the first hole and got the edge off - and then made three or four in a row. I was struggling and he picked me up.
"Fortunately, I made some putts on the back nine. Hopefully gives us a lot more momentum going into tomorrow."
Early trailblazers Australia slipped to fifth place on 198 as Brendon Jones and Richard Green made heavy weather of frequent squalls on the wet and humid course with a 67.
Edoardo and Francesco Molinari put defending champion Italy back into contention with an 8 under 64 that left them tied for seventh with Mexico on 16 under.
But Ian Poulter and Justin Rose of England saw their hopes of lifting the trophy slip in the inclement conditions, carding two bogeys in their four under 68. They have a share of 15th with Zimbabwe on 13 under.
Zhang Xinjun and Liang Wenchong dashed any hopes of a victory on home soil, as the Chinese pair slipped to joint 17th on 12 under.
Sunday's final round of the US$7.5 tournament will see a return to the tricky foursomes alternate shot format.
The World Cup features 28 teams and is being staged biennially following golf's inclusion in the Olympics from Brazil 2016.