Water torture ends Rory McIlroy's hopes at Arnold Palmer Invitational
Adam Scott's bid for a third straight victory and Rory McIlroy's faint hopes of simply getting into contention for a first win of 2016 came to a watery end in the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Saturday.
McIlroy had targeted back-to-back rounds of 66 over the weekend at Bay Hill to climb the leaderboard after beginning the third round 11 shots behind halfway leader Jason Day.
And after starting from the 10th due to an early two-tee start in anticipation of bad weather in Orlando, the world number two moved in the right direction with birdies on the 11th and 16th to reach four under par.
However, McIlroy's approach to the 18th then landed in the rocks on the edge of a water hazard and led to a double-bogey six, which was soon followed by another on the third, where the four-time major winner found water off the tee and with his attempted recovery.
The 26-year-old, who found the water three times in an opening 75 before recovering with a 67 on Friday, did birdie the sixth only to card his third double bogey of the day on the seventh, where he found sand off the tee and compounded the error by three-putting from long range.
McIlroy's 75 left him one over par for the tournament and 15 shots off the lead, while Scott was eight shots adrift following one costly mistake in a round of 70.
The former world number one, who won the Honda Classic and WGC-Cadillac Championship in his last two starts, was five under par for the day before finding water with his approach to the 18th and then seeing his fourth shot plug in a greenside bunker.
That led to a triple-bogey seven and left Scott on six under par, eight behind fellow Australian Day, who was a shot ahead of course specialist Henrik Stenson and American Kevin Chappell.
Stenson began the day two shots behind Day but moved into the lead with birdies on the fourth and fifth and an eagle from six feet on the sixth, only to bogey the seventh and see Day reclaim the lead by chipping in from the back of the green on the eighth.
Day bogeyed the 11th after finding water with his approach, but Stenson then bogeyed the par-five 12th after his drive plugged in a fairway bunker to fall one behind again.