By Brian Keogh
Paul McGinley was disgusted as a nightmare finish left him six shots behind a rampant Justin Rose at Valderrama.
The Dubliner was livid with his putting performance as he three-putted the 17th for bogey and then missed a short par putt at the last to card a four over par 75.
Overnight leader Graeme McDowell also shot 75 to slip back to joint third and trail Rose by five shots on one over par
But the Ulsterman was bubbly by comparison with downcast McGinley after another wind-swept day at Europe’s answer to Augusta.
Slumped in a garden chair beside the putting green, McGinley groaned: “ I’m really disgusted with myself. I am very disappointed to play reasonably well and then throw shots away. It was a horrible finish.
“I played alright but I putted absolutely abysmally. I don’t think I could have putted any worse than I did.
“I had two three-putts, missed numerous birdie opportunities on the front nine and then finished with carnage on the last two greens.”
Playing in the final group, the Irish pair made just one birdie between them - a two by McGinley at the 163-yard sixth.
But while McDowell was looking on the bright side and feeling good about his chances of getting back into the mix, McGinley was furious with himself,.
Champion in 2005, the Dubliner hit just eight greens and had 29 putts to fall back into a three-way tie for seventh with Simon Dyson and Raphael Jacquelin.
And his frustration came from his inability to judge the pace of greens that were not cut due to the high winds that whipped the course.
Staring at the ground, McGinley said: “I’m six off the lead but I didn’t play bad enough to shoot 75 and you can’t afford days like that on the greens if you are thinking about winning tournaments or contending in tournaments.
“I’ve no feel. I’m not connecting with the hole at all. I am way too much into technique. I am way too conscious of my stroke. The thing I’m struggling with most here is that the greens aren’t cut.
“Experience tells me these greens should be slick and fast and it is hard to get over that mental hurdle that you have a downhill, crosshill putt and it is not as quick as you expect."
McGinley was equally disappointed with his performances on the par fives - three putting the fourth for bogey and then dropping that shot at the 17th,
He said: “My party piece this year is sixes on par fives, two again today. I’m very disappointed. I’ve brought the pack back in, you’ve got to batten down the hatches around here.”
McDowell also blamed his "cold" putter after failing to make a birdie all day in a four-bogey 75.
But he warned that Rose can’t afford to lose concentration for a second on a major championship style course.
McDowell said: “I am right there in it. We have one guy running away with it a little bit but this course will soon catch up with him if he falls asleep even for a second.
“It is unbelievably difficult. There are no easy holes out there. Not one hole where you can go: 'Birdie chance, whip it down and the middle and whip it on the green.'
“Every hole is just fraught with danger. It takes it out of you mentally and physically. It is just a really, really tough track.
“It is no surprise that the guy who is leading it is was in the top 12 in every major championship this year. The guy is a major player and this is a major type golf course.
“That is the game you need to have and I am happy that I am in contention for the weekend. It is a major set up and it is nice to play under the gun in these conditions.
“I’m five behind but five shots is absolutely nothing round here. Double bogey is just around every corner. If I can get my iron play back on track like yesterday, I can make some birdies.”