Pre-championship favorite McIlroy hangs on to hope for final round

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SANDWICH, England (AP) -- Rory McIlroy says he hasn't given up hope of winning the Open Championship despite slipping nine shots off the lead after a rain-soaked third round at Royal St. George's.

The 22-year-old Northern Irishman struggled in the wet and windy conditions on Saturday as he slumped to a 4-over 74, nine shots behind leader and compatriot Darren Clarke.

However, he harked back to Paul Lawrie's British Open triumph in 1999, when the Scot came back from a 10-shot deficit after 54 holes to win at Carnoustie.

McIlroy says "it's been done before so I'll just have to keep up the hope."

McIlroy bogeyed three holes on the front nine and made a double-bogey 7 on No. 14 after driving out of bounds.