Fowler facing uphill task at The Open
The American, who has claimed top-five finishes in each of this year's previous majors, matched McIlroy's third-round score of 68 at Hoylake to earn a place in Sunday's final pairing.
However, Fowler could have been much closer to the leader had he not dropped three shots in the space of four holes on the back nine.
He ultimately reached the clubhouse at 10 under, six behind McIlroy, who he had briefly joined at the summit of the leaderboard when birdieing the 12th.
While pleased with his form, Fowler acknowledged he faces a difficult task to reel in the Northern Irishman, with no player having given up a six-shot lead after 54 holes at The Open.
"I'm definitely satisfied with my game. I'm definitely delivering the club properly although three shots slipped away from me on the back nine," he said.
"My swing is a lot more efficient than it’s ever been. It's more based on body rotation rather than timing and hands.
"It's going to be tough catching Rory from six shots back. I need to get off to a good start to put a bit of pressure on him because he's definitely in control of the golf tournament right now."
France's Victor Dubuisson is also among the chasing pack looking to seize on any stutter from McIlroy after a four-under round of 68 on Saturday.
Dubuisson sits eight shots behind in fifth, but is keen to focus on his own game on the final day rather than chasing those ahead of him.
"It was a great round because I started with the bogey on the second hole. But then I got some great birdie opportunities," he said.
"My putting was good. But still, you know, the pin positions were a little bit trickier than the two days before.
"It's always better to be at the top of the leaderboard than to be down so, yeah, tomorrow I will just try to do my best and if the putts go in it could be a good day.
"I just try to focus on my game and try to be as relaxed as possible on the course. Because I think it's the best way in this type of big tournament - to do well."