For the third day in a row, Rory McIlroy got off to a rocky start at TPC Sawgrass — he was four-over through 6 — but similar to the previous two rounds, he rallied and reeled off seven birdies in the remaining holes to post a three-under 69.
It’s truly been a story of two nines at The Players Championship for the 25-year-old from Northern Ireland. For the week, he’s been nine-over on the front and 12-under on the back.
“If I had just kept it around even par for the front nine, I’d be up near the leaders, but yeah, 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,” said McIlory following his round.
McIlroy birdied the last three to post a five-under 31 on the second nine. He went in with a 32 on Friday and 33 on Thursday.
“Maybe tomorrow I can put it all together and start strongly and finish strongly like I have the last few days.”
What’s the story with Rory and the front nine at Sawgrass?
Well, on Saturday, he struggled with his putting on the front nine and played better than his score suggested.
“I’d hit five greens in seven holes, and I was 4-over par,” he said. “I hadn’t really done much wrong. It was nice to see a putt go in. I had three really big lipouts on the front nine, but it was nice to see a putt go in on 7, holed one from off the green, which was a bonus. I was in a decent frame of mind going into the back nine.”
Part of the reason for his troubles on the greens was adjusting to the speed, with the conditions firming up.
“The greens are still pretty receptive but the greens are quicker,” said McIlroy. “They’re much faster. I’d say they’re at least two or three feet quicker today than they were yesterday.
“I stepped up on the first green today and hit my first putt eight feet by. Needed to adjust quickly to that, so that’s going to make it a little different, a little trickier for the guys today, especially with how hard the wind is blowing already.”
With the leaders, Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth, just teeing off, McIlroy has already moved up the ‘board quite a bit. He’s currently in a tie for 30th.
(Getty Images/Kevin C. Cox)