Rory McIlroy confessed that it’s competitive rounds and not range practice that he needs with just 11 days to go before the start of the US Open at Merion.
Yet despite just scraping in for the weekend in the Memorial Tournament, where he was forced to get up and down at the 18th in his weather delayed second round on Saturday morning, he did not repeated last year’s exercise by adding next week’s FedEx St Jude Classic to his schedule.
“I am just happy to be playing two more rounds,” said McIlroy, who then went out and shot a third round 75 left him 14 shots behind leader Matt Kuchar at Muirfield Village.
“It’s another opportunity to play two more rounds of golf and I guess work on my game a little bit. And I guess work on it out there more than anything else.
“Of course I can go on the range and hit it well. But it’s about doing that out on the golf course and that’s what I have to do at the weekend.”
McIlroy opened with a six-over-par 78 at Muirfield Village but was halted by heavy rain during his second round on four-under through 14 holes.
Returning to the course yesterday, he made a birdie at the 15th but then immediately dropped shots at each of the next two holes before being forced to get up and down from 44 yards at the last for par to make the cut.
“I was a lot looser for most of the round,” McIlroy said. “But, when I started getting closer to the cut line, I wasn’t so loose. I need to commit more to my shots.”
There was more frustration for McIlroy in the afternoon, however, as mixed two birdies with three bogeys and a double bogey six in a 75 that left him tied for 64th on six over entering the final round.
McIlroy was not the only big name struggling in tricky conditions.
Tiger Woods also just made the cut at one over par — 10 shots behind halfway leader Bill Haas — but then teed off his third round with a shocking front nine of 44, featuring a pair of sevens, to drop to the bottom of the field.
His 44 was the highest nine-hole score of his professional career and while he picked up three shots after the turn he made further bogeys at the sixth and ninth for a round of 79.
“It was a rough day,” the defending champion told the PGA Tour website. “It was tough out there from beginning to end.
“It’s just one of those things where I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggled out there.
“The conditions were tough — when I missed it cost me. I caught the wrong gusts at the wrong time, made a couple bad swings and all in all it just went the wrong way.”
McIlroy was bunkered twice at the first, off the tee and with his approach, to start with a bogey.
He had to scramble to save par from over the back of the second but then double bogeyed the par-four third when he hit his second shot into hazard right of the green.
Another shot went at the par-three eighth where he found greenside sand and missed a five footer for par.
And while he birdied the ninth with a 116 yard approach inside three feet, he three putted the 10th for bogey, knocking his 39 footer five feet past before missing the return.
A poor drive forced him to lay up at the par five 11th and settle for par and while he pulled a shot back at the 184 yard 12th, draining a 20 footer for birdie, he missed birdie chances at the 15th and 16th.
The Ulsterman plans to practice at Merion next week but it remains to be seen if he hs enough time to sharpen his game before the second major of the season.
Leader Kuchar, meanwhile, shot a two under 70 to lead by two shots from Kevin Chappell (68) and Kyle Stanley (73) on eight under par. Leaderboard
Shane Lowry missed the cut and headed home after a pair of 78s.