Rory McIlroy concedes Open Championship hopes are over after missed opportunity
World number four Rory McIlroy concedes his Open Championship chances are over after a day of missed opportunity at Royal Birkdale.
On a Saturday when South African Branden Grace shot the first 62 in men's major history the 2014 champion at nearby Hoylake was three under through five holes - which included a missed eagle putt - but eventually signed for a one-under-par 69.
That left him two-under for the tournament and nine shots behind leader Jordan Spieth, making a final-day charge for the Claret Jug virtually impossible.
"It's hard to think 'big picture' now, I'm just off the golf course and I'm a little disappointed," he said.
"I definitely feel like today was an opportunity lost to get right in the mix going into tomorrow.
"It (his game) is getting there. It's not quite where I need it to be to win the biggest golf tournaments in the world but it's getting there.
"I need to pick myself up, play a good round tomorrow, hope for some bad weather, hope for some guys to struggle and we'll see what happens."
Each of McIlroy's three rounds have promised much but ultimately failed to deliver, notwithstanding the way he staged a back-nine rescue mission on Thursday after being five over through six holes.
The 28-year-old, hampered by back and rib injuries earlier in the year, has not won since September last year and in his last six majors he has either finished inside the top 10 or missed the cut to highlight his inconsistent form
"This week has been a step in the right direction, there's no doubt about it," added the four-time major winner.
Asked what the plan was for Sunday, considering how far back he is, McIlroy said: "Just play a good round of golf and see where that finishes me, I guess.
"Go out there and play well and try to limit the mistakes and get off to a fast start again like I've done the last couple of days and just try to keep it going.
"There are low scores out there and people are not making mistakes. If you keep it in play, it's almost hard to make a bogey out there."