Published Saturday, 10 May 2014
McIlroy hits his tee shot on the sixth hole during the third round. (© UTV)
Scraping through on the mark of level par left the 25-year-old 12 shots behind halfway leader and Ryder Cup team-mate Martin Kaymer, who added a 69 to his course record-equalling 63 in the opening round.
It also meant an early start for McIlroy on Saturday and he again struggled on the front nine, making a bogey on the first, double bogey on the fourth and a bogey on the sixth before birdies on the seventh and eighth took him to the turn in 38.
As on Friday, the back nine came to the former world number one's rescue and birdies on the 10th, 11th, 16th, 17th and 18th ensured a round of 69 and three-under-par total.
So far this week, McIlroy has taken 117 strokes on the front nine and 96
on the back nine, a difference of 21 shots at an average of seven per day.
Starting from the 10th in his opening round, the two-time major winner was five under par after 11 holes before three late bogeys, while he covered the front nine in 42 on Friday before rallying with vital birdies on the 12th, 13th, 16th and 18th.
McIlroy was finished hours before the leaders were due out, Kaymer holding a one-shot lead over American sensation Jordan Spieth, who is the only player in the field not to record a bogey in the first 36 holes.
"If I had just kept it around even par for the front nine, I'd be up near the leaders," McIlroy told reporters.
"I'm really happy with how I've been able to come back the last couple of days, but it's also a little frustrating that I've had to come back because I feel like I'm playing good enough to not have these little stretches of bad holes.
"Maybe tomorrow I can put it all together and start strongly and finish strongly like I have the last few days.
"I felt like I wasn't playing as badly as the score was suggesting today. I'd hit five greens in seven holes and I was four over par.
"I hadn't really done much wrong. I had three really big lip-outs on the front nine, but it was nice to see a putt go in on seven where I holed one from off the green, which was a bonus.
"I was in a decent frame of mind going into the back nine."
World number two Adam Scott had also made the cut on level par after a second round of 67 and matched McIlroy's 69 to join the Northern Irishman on three under.
That kept alive Scott's hopes of overtaking Tiger Woods at the top of the world rankings with a top-16 finish, although Henrik Stenson can also claim top spot with a top-six finish and the Swede had eagled the second to move joint 10th on five under.
© UTV News