Rory McIlroy relinquishes Malaysia lead

Updated: April 17, 2011, 12:17 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Rory McIlroy completed an even-par 72 that included a double bogey on the par-3 15th hole, relinquishing the Malaysian Open lead to Alexander Noren and 17-year-old Matteo Manassero heading into the final round Sunday.

McIlroy appeared to have overcome his collapse at the Masters when he grabbed the lead before rain and lightning disrupted play at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club on Saturday. He completed nine holes and was 12 under when the final part of the third round was washed out.

The Northern Irishman now enters the final round in third at 11 under, a stroke behind Italian Manassero (67) and Noren of Sweden (71).

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel completed a 67 to get to 5-under 211.

Schwartzel just made the cut Saturday with a 1-under 71 in the second round to finish at 144.

McIlroy knows he's got a challenge ahead on Sunday.

"It's nice to hole that putt on the ninth and finish on a positive note," McIlroy said. "I've still got the lead but it is going to be a long day tomorrow. Twenty-seven holes in the heat is going to be tough."

Defending champion Noh Seung-yul of South Korea finished at 145 in the second round, missing the cut by one stroke.

"My swing was horrible and the ball was flying everywhere," Noh said. "I changed my swing two months ago, and I had an injury to my finger as well."

Officials from the Asian and European Tours, which co-sanction the tournament, are expected to decide Sunday whether to extend the Malaysian Open to Monday for the first time. In 2006, the tournament at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club was shortened to 54 holes because of heavy rain.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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