Rory McIlroy laughs off the embarrassment of being outscored by his marker
RORY McIlroy failed to find the “something phenomenal” he needed today to keep his faint hopes of winning the Masters alive at Augusta National.
But he did get a valuable lesson in how to play the course from club member Jeff Knox, who was acting as McIlroy’s marker and outscored the former world number one by a shot.
As it was, a birdie on the last meant that the Northern Irishman went around in one under par. His round included three bogeys and four birdies in total.
He starts the final round on three over par, 10 shots behind Bubba Watson who is yet to start his third round
McIlroy, who holed a four-foot par putt on the 18th on Friday evening to make the cut on the mark of four over par, started promisingly with a two-putt birdie from 25 feet on the par-five second.
However, the two-time major winner’s approach to the short third ran over the green and he was unable to get up and down for par, while birdie chances went begging on the fourth and sixth.
An errant tee shot led to another bogey on the seventh and an outward nine of 37 completed in 90 minutes, with Knox — who holds the course record of 61 from the members’ tees — out in an unofficial 35 after matching McIlroy’s birdie on the second.
McIlroy dropped another shot on the 10th after missing the green left for the second day running, and smiled wryly when he missed for birdie on the 12th only to see Knox casually hole from 30 feet.
A visibly frustrated McIlroy drove into Rae’s Creek on the left of the 13th and although he saved par after a penalty drop, another birdie putt catching the edge of the hole on the 14th and staying out summed up his day.
But a strong finish - with three birdies in the last four holes - brought him back under par for the day, and perhaps gave a hint of what might have been.
Speaking on Friday evening, McIlroy had said: “I just want to go out there and try to get off to a fast start. Eleven shots back (of leader Bubba Watson) with two rounds to play is going to be nearly impossible to make up, so I’m trying to shoot two really low rounds and see where that puts me at the end of the week.
“It will take something phenomenal to shoot something in the mid-60s and get myself back under par going into the last day. But I’m going to need to be two, three or four under par going into the last day to have any sort of chance.”
Former champion Watson was seven under par at halfway and enjoyed a three-shot lead over Australian John Senden, with defending champion Adam Scott, Masters rookies Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn a shot further back.
American Gary Woodland was making the biggest move of the early starters, birdies on the first and sixth coupled with an eagle on the second taking him to one under par for the tournament.