Rory McIlroy's drives a smashing success at Bridgestone Invitational

By Mike Popovich
Published on
Rory McIlroy's drives a smashing success at Bridgestone Invitational

AKRON -- Rory McIlroy may leave town with his second World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational title.

One thing he is guaranteed to have is a 2017 record mentioned in the tournament history book.

McIlroy set a Bridgestone 54-hole record for most drives over 300 yards on No. 18 Saturday. It was his 38th this week.

"I'm hitting the driver really well," said McIlroy, who will enter Sunday's final round three shots behind co-leaders Zach Johnson and Thomas Pieters. "When you're confident with it and can go at it 100 percent, it feels good."

RELATED: Why Rory could win his third PGA title

McIlroy ranks first in average driving distance at 344.2 yards for the two official measured holes. He is also averaging 328 yards for all holes measured by ShotLink.

Even an annoying divot on No. 16 could not slow McIlroy. He hit it with a 364-yard drive, but still managed to par the par-5 hole and remain within striking distance of the lead.

Walker's struggles

It was not a great day for second-round leader Jimmy Walker. He quickly lost his one-shot lead when he bogeyed No. 1, and that snowballed into a forgettable front nine.

A 4-over 74 dropped Walker into a tie for 10th place at 3-under, six shots off the lead. Thanks to another bogey and two double-bogeys, he shot 41 on the front nine.

Streak in jeopardy

Jordan Spieth's streak of tournament wins is in jeopardy.

Spieth shot 1-over 71 Saturday and fell into a tie for 16th and 2-under, seven shots off the lead. He opened the day with back-to-back birdies, but bogeys on 3 and 4 put the brakes on what could have been a pivotal day for the 24-year-old.

"I really had a chance to shoot a low round today," Spieth said. "I birdied the first two and I felt really good about my range session, my putting session before. It just wasn't meant to be today."

Spieth won the Travelers Championship and Open Championship prior to coming to Firestone.

Stars and stripes look

Scott Hend's shoes were a design of the United States flag. Someone shouted "Nice shoes" when he played No. 17. It probably wasn't the first time he heard it during his round.

Hend wore the shoes despite not knowing Saturday was Military Appreciation Day at the Bridgestone Invitational.

"I wore them for the appreciation of the military, what they did for us who actually live in this country," Hend said.

Hend said the shoes were designed by the Italian company Raimondi. He also had shoes designed with the flag of his native Australia.

Will he wear the Australian flag shoes on Sunday?

"They're not here," Hend said. "I wore them at the Golf Sixes in England the other week. I caught a bit of flak from the English guys wearing Australian shoes."

This article is written by Mike Popovich from The Repository, Canton, Ohio and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to