Golf-Dad's 10-year wager will come off if McIlroy wins Open

By Tony Jimenez

HOYLAKE, England, July 20 (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy will pick up a first prize of 975,000 pounds ($1.67 million) if he wins the British Open later on Sunday and his father Gerry also stands to pocket 50,000 pounds on a 10-year-old wager.

According to media reports, Gerry and three friends placed a bet of 400 pounds at odds of 500-1 that his son would win golf's oldest major before the age of 26.

The 25-year-old Rory tees off in the final round at 1440 local time (1340) GMT) holding a massive six-stroke lead over American playing partner Rickie Fowler and with the coveted Claret Jug firmly in his sights at Royal Liverpool.

McIlroy will be confronted by almost perfect conditions with Saturday's rain having been replaced by blue skies, bright sunshine and light winds.

The Northern Irishman is bidding to secure the third leg of a career grand slam in the majors, with the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 U.S. PGA Championship trophies already taking pride of place on his mantelpiece.

McIlroy was a picture of concentration in Saturday's third round, never wavering from the task in hand and willing to trade golfing punches whenever his overnight lead was being threatened.

Fowler drew level with his close friend and Florida neighbour at the 12th but the twice major winner reacted like a true champion, reeling off two eagles and a birdie in the closing holes.

"It was nice to be able to come up with the goods when I needed them," McIlroy told reporters after signing for a 68 and a 16-under-par total of 200, two strokes off the Open record for the opening three rounds.

The 24-year-old Fowler acknowledged the title was now McIlroy's to lose.

"He's definitely in control of the tournament," said the young American.

Former world number one Tiger Woods, playing among the back markers and one of the early starters, continued to struggle for form on Sunday.

The 14-times major winner, making his second competitive outing since undergoing back surgery in March, was four-over-par for the day, and seven-over for the championship, through 14 holes.

Fellow American Brendon Todd was faring the best out on the course, a sequence of four birdies and an eagle leaving him five-under for his round and one-under overall.

($1 = 0.5851 British Pounds) (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)