The Open: Rory McIlroy In Control After Third Round At Hoylake (PHOTOS)

The predicted thunderstorms failed to materialise, but Rory McIlroy provided plenty of fireworks to take a stranglehold on the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

A "significant risk" of storms and an amber weather warning led the R&A to employ a two-tee start for the first time in championship history on Saturday, with play getting under way at 9am from the first and 10th tee.

But with perfect timing a spell of heavy rain ended in time for the leaders to tee off and returned as McIlroy gave his post-round press conference after repelling a spirited challenge from fellow 25-year-old Rickie Fowler with two eagles in the last three holes.

A round of 68 gave McIlroy a 16-under-par total of 200 - just two shots outside the all-time Open record set by Tom Lehman in 1996 - and a six-shot lead over Fowler, who also returned a 68. Spain's Sergio Garcia and American Dustin Johnson were a shot further back on nine under.

McIlroy will now attempt to become the second wire-to-wire winner of a major in succession after Martin Kaymer won the US Open at Pinehurst last month by eight shots, the same margin by which McIlroy won the 2011 US Open and 2012 US PGA Championship.

Before tomorrow's climax though, enjoy some photos of the fans taking the good old British weather in their stride.

All Weathers At The Open