WATCH: Rory McIlroy holes epic bunker shot to take Open lead at St. Andrews

Rory McIlroy sets up for his bunker shot on the 10th hole on Saturday.

NBC

Leading up to the 2022 Open Championship, it seemed that everything was lining up in Rory McIlroy’s favor. On Saturday at St. Andrews, the four-time major champ manufactured what could be his signature moment should he go on to win.

Playing in the penultimate pairing, McIlroy sat back and watched playing partner Viktor Hovland go on a tear to charge into the lead, while 36-hole leader Cameron Smith seemed stuck in neutral.

McIlroy had a solid start of his own, with three birdies over his first nine and zero dropped shots, but it just paled in comparison to Hovland’s four-straight birdies on holes 3-6. At that point, Hovland stood at 14 under, with Rory one back.

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Just after the turn, though, the wheel of fortune turned once again in McIlroy’s favor. Off the tee, Rory pulled driver and aimed for the green of the short par-4 10th, but while on its way toward the putting surface, his ball dropped into a pot bunker, potentially creating a disastrous situation for the Northern Irishman.

But you need breaks to win an Open, and Rory got one when his ball found the center of the bunker, leaving plenty of room to hit a comfortable, though difficult shot from the sand.

He made it look easy.

Rory swiped at his ball, sending it soaring into the air and landed it 10 yards from the hole, then watched as it bounced, rolled and dropped into the hole.

McIlroy let out a big fist pump to celebrate his eagle 2, which temporarily gave him the solo lead at 15 under. Check it out below.

Hovland didn’t back down, though. He two-putted for a birdie to tie McIlroy on the top with eight holes to play in Round 3.

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Kevin Cunningham

Kevin Cunningham

Golf.com Editor

As managing producer for GOLF.com, Cunningham edits, writes and publishes stories on GOLF.com, and manages the brand’s e-newsletters, which reach more than 1.4 million subscribers each month. A former two-time intern, he also helps keep GOLF.com humming outside the news-breaking stories and service content provided by our reporters and writers, and works with the tech team in the development of new products and innovative ways to deliver an engaging site to our audience.