Rory McIlroy is ranked No. 2 in the world and owns two major titles.
But he hasn’t yet figured out Augusta National Golf Club.
McIlroy entered Saturday’s third round of the Masters four shots out of the lead, but he stumbled to a 7-over-par 79 to enter the final round at 5 over and out of the hunt.
“It’s disappointing, especially after such a good start,” said McIlroy, who birdied the third hole to get to 3 under. “I was only a few off the lead going into seventh hole, and then all of a sudden I play 7 through 11 in 5 over, and basically my chances in the tournament are gone.
“So it’s very disappointing. I feel like I was playing well and feel like I have been playing well coming in here, and it’s just a frustrating day here.“
McIlroy has had a round of 77 or worse in each of his past four Masters.
In Saturday’s round, he bogeyed the seventh and ninth holes, then he fell apart with a 6-over 42 on the back nine, including a triple-bogey on No. 11 and a double-bogey on No. 15.
“I’m playing it the way I know you should play it,” McIlroy said. “I’m not taking too much on. I’m not being too defensive. I feel like my strategy’s right; it’s just sometimes if your execution is just that little bit off, you pay a big price for it.“
Making a move
Tim Clark missed the cut in three of the past four years at Augusta National.
But he’s in the hunt after a 5-under 67 on Saturday. That marks Clark’s best round in the tournament.
“Going off early, the front nine, the greens are somewhat receptive, so I was able to get some birdies early and sort of try and hang on,” Clark said.
He ended the day at 3 under after rounds of 70-76-67.
Phil Mickelson likes to think he’s always in the hunt at Augusta National.
That won’t be the case this year in the final round.
Mickelson matched his worst Masters round with a 5-over 77. He hit into the water on each of the Amen Corner holes — Nos. 11-13 — and finished with four bogeys and two double-bogeys to go with three birdies.
“I just played terrible,” Mickelson said. “There’s no way around it. I’m just not hitting very good golf shots, missing it in bad spots and not really knowing which side I’m going to miss it on. So my play has been beyond terrible, and that’s certainly disappointing. But where else would you rather be than Augusta National with this kind of weather on a weekend? It’s just spectacular, and certainly I wish I played better, but it sure is fun being here.”