Day takes the lead at The Barclays

Rory McIlroy’s challenge of capturing four events in succession turned cold after slipping five shots from the lead on day three of The Barclays in New Jersey.

The world number one posted a no frills 71 for a share of 24th spot at four under par in a round of four birdies but also three bogeys.

Aussie Jason Day, who played alongside Scot Russell Knox, birdied three of his closing four holes in a score of 68 before being joined in a share of the lead at nine under par by Jim Furky (69) on the Ridgwood Country Club course.

“It feels great,” said Jason Day. “Obviously the hard work that I’ve put in since the WGC; just to be able to get the all‑clear to go out there and not let the thumb injury kind of hinder what you’re trying to do in practice.”

“At the end of the day when you have an injury and it’s slowly not going away, you kind of play little games in your head. You’re thinking, okay, when will I be back fully healthy, when can I practice again, will I ever play the game again.”

Jason Day Jason Day (Credit: Anthony Powter)

“I’ve said it to my coach and my mental guy, Jason Goldsmith, the ultimate goal is to get into the TOUR Champ. So a good week here will obviously take care of that, so hopefully tomorrow I can take care of it and move on.”

McIlroy is seeking to become only the sixth player in PGA Tour history to win four or more events in succession after his Open Championship triumph, a WGC – Bridgestone success and his second PGA Championship win last fortnight.

It would mean joining some of the game’s immortals in Byron Nelson (1945-46), Jack Burke Jr (1952) and Ben Hogan (1953) who won four in a row, and the target then would be a string of five PGA wins owned by Tiger Woods (2007-08).

However McIlroy is not about to throw in the towel with a round to play in the $US 8m event.

“I will be looking to shoot something in the low 60s, and try and at least get into double digits under par and do that as quickly as possible,” he said.

“If so, then maybe I can make a bit of a charge. I’ve come from behind before and every time I’m in this position I feel I can win. I always think back to Quail Hollow in 2010.”

Though five years ago at Quail Hollow in North Carolina McIlroy was four shots behind Billy Mayfair with a round to play, and with a new course record 62 won by four.

Earlier this year, McIlroy was seven shots adrift of Thomas Bjorn heading to the last day of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and stormed home with a 66 to win by a stroke.

Then last month, he was three behind Sergio Garcia and won the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational by two.

“There’s a lot of guys between me and the leaders and it will depend on what the leaders do this afternoon,” he said.

“It might be too much to ask, but I will try to get to get to double-digits under par and try and finish as high up the leader board as possible and move onto next week to Boston.”

Adam Scott had a day he would rather forget after firing a 4-over 75 to fall back into T23 after sharing the overnight lead.

Australia’s Stuart Appleby continued his return to some sort of form with a 3-under 68 moving him in to a T11 and just three strokes off the pace at six-under. The Victorian hasn’t tasted victory since his win at the 2010 The Greenbrier Classic.