Rory McIlroy laments "too many mistakes" as hopes of Masters comeback falters
Rory McIlroy has admitted he's made too many errors around Augusta to be in contention at the Masters after another average round.
The World No.3 carded his second consecutive under-par round on Saturday as he fired a one-under 71 to move one-under for the tournament.
However, that's already nine shots off the leaders with most of them still to play over half their third rounds.
McIlroy was once again up-and-down for the third straight day, carding four birdies and an eagle only to see them offset by five bogeys - including one on the 18th to end the round on a sour note.
"I just tried to play a good round of golf - it wasn't about chasing, it wasn't about doing anything, it was just about going out there and executing the shots I needed to," said McIlroy after his third round.
"I felt for the most part today that I did maybe a little bit better than the previous two days, but I just haven't been getting much out of my round. I've just been making too many mistakes.
"It's not as if I'm playing bad golf, I mean I'm under par for the tournament, but I'm just not enough under par. I just made too many mistakes.
"It's not as if anything is glaringly obvious in terms of what's lacking in my game, it's just been one of those weeks where I haven't quite got the momentum I needed to get."
The frustrations for McIlroy were palpable out on the course, coming into the round at level par and needing to go low, and likely very low, in order to factor himself into the equation heading into the final round.
Despite an early birdie at the par-three fourth following an exceptional 32-foot putt, the Holywood man couldn't use that momentum and instead carded back-to-back bogeys at the sixth and seventh to fall over par.
That was followed by another bogey at the ninth as he found an awkward lie in a greenside bunker, and a birdie at the par-four 10th was immediately handed back to the course when he dropped a shot on the 11th.
Things started to pick up for McIlroy though as he regained a shot at the par-five 13th and then hit a sublime approach with his second shot on the par-five 15th which yielded an eight-foot eagle, and then followed that up with a birdie on the 16th - his third of the week.
However, the stellar play came to an end at 18 when his tee shot found the fairway bunker and he could only advance it to the greenside bunker, from where he couldn't make up-and-down, to finish one-under.
"I just made too many mistakes, I guess I'll say," reiterated the 29-year-old. "Missing it left on six, the par-three there. I put myself out of position on a couple of the par-fives, where I can't go for the green in two.
"It's just little things like that where a different day could be a different result."
Barring a phenomenal final round, which would likely have to break Nick Price's course-record of 63, or a collapse from the large group of leaders, McIlroy's race at the Masters looks run for another year.
The Grand Slam will have to wait until 2020 at the earliest, and while this time he was never really in contention, this one will be frustrating whenever you consider the form he came into the event with and the names at the top of that leaderboard.
"I don't know what's going to happen (on Sunday)," added McIlroy, who refused to give up all hope. "I mean, I saw Tony (Finau) shoot six-under the front nine there and I'm going to need something like that to maybe have a chance.
"But yeah, I can play a good round of golf and finish the week on a positive note at least."
Belfast Telegraph Digital