McIlroy frustrated by putting: "I feel like punching myself"
 Martin Kaymer Picture © Getty Images

Martin Kaymer Picture © Getty Images

Rory McIlroy had 34 putts to kiss the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship goodbye and vented his frustration by declaring: "I feel like punching myself."

The world No 1, impressive from tee to green but uninspired wit the short stick in hand, began the day just two shots behind Martin Kaymer in third place and ended it eight adrift of the German on 12 under par 

McIlroy had two birdies and one bogey in a 71 on a day of low scoring and ended up tied for fifth behind the unflappable German, who is going for his fourth win in the event.

"I feel like punching myself," McIlroy said. "I'm very disappointed, I just didn't putt well - yesterday or today.

"I hit the ball just as well as I did yesterday and gave myself so many chances but I didn't convert any. I was very wasteful today. It looks like I'm playing for second place tomorrow.

"You're always trying to improve and get better and I'm going to have to do something a bit better on the greens to shoot a good number and finish the tournament off well."

McIlroy didn't make his first birdie of the day until the sixth and made another shot on the par-three 12th before failing to get up and down after going long with his approach to the 13th.

In contrast, former world No 1 Kaymer had just 25 putts in an immaculate 65 and leads by six from Belgium's Pieters, whose third round 70 contained three birdies and just one bogey.

Austria's Wiesberger, who carded seven birdies and one bogey for a round of 66, is a shot further back alongside France's Alexander Levy, who managed a 67.

South Africa's Charl Schwartzel and France's Gary Stal are alongside McIlroy on 12 under, with France's Victor Dubuisson (64), Wales' Jamie Donaldson (65) and another South African, Dawie van der Walt (65), benefiting from good third rounds to join America's Peter Uihlein (70) a shot further back.

Kaymer, winner of this tournament in 2008, 2010 and 2011, started brightly with birdies on the first two holes, before another gain on the fifth after some superb iron play. But the key to his 20 under par total is that he has made just two bogeys with both of them coming on day one.

The US Open Champion maintained the momentum with birdies on the seventh and eighth, then chipped in from a bunker at the tenth to save par after a wayward second found the desert.

He holed from 30 feet at the 11th and left a tap-in birdie at the 13th, before telling reporters: "Hopefully it's going to be enough - I've really enjoyed the course.

"I've had a very solid three days, with only two bogeys in the first round.

"I'm a little bit surprised the way I played but the first round showed me I made the right choice taking it a little bit easy over the winter.

“I'm not scared of leading a golf tournament. I really enjoy the challenge, because it's a challenge against yourself. You challenge yourself all day long and it's about really trying to minimise the mistakes and the bogeys, and fortunately I did that yesterday and again today.

“The (scoring) record is not that interesting for me to be honest. To me the most important thing is that I win the golf tournament; if it’s by one shot, by six shots or by ten shots, I don’t really care, just as long as I win.”

Damien McGrane, the only other Irish player to make the cut, didn't have his greatest day with his irons despite driving the ball well and shot a one under 71 to drop 19 spots to tied 45th on five under.

Scores after round three

196 M Kaymer (Ger) 64 67 65, 

202 T Pieters  (Bel) 65 67 70, 

203 A Levy (Fra) 66 70 67, B Wiesberger  (Aut) 72 65 66,

204 G Stal  (Fra) 68 69 67, C Schwartzel  (RSA) 71 68 65, R McIlroy  (Nir) 67 66 71,

205 V Dubuisson  (Fra) 69 72 64, J Donaldson (Wal) 73 67 65, D Van Der Walt (RSA) 70 70 65, P Uihlein  (USA) 67 68 70,

206 G Bourdy (Fra) 66 74 66, M Madsen  (Den) 68 69 69, M Jiménez (Esp) 72 67 67, E Pepperell (Eng) 70 68 68,

207 R Green (Aus) 68 68 71, M Fraser (Aus) 72 68 67, R Karlsson (Swe) 67 71 69, B An (Kor) 67 75 65, A Wall (Eng) 70 71 66, J Morrison  (Eng) 68 67 72, N Fasth (Swe) 69 70 68, B Grace  (RSA) 66 74 67, T Hatton (Eng) 66 71 70, S Webster (Eng) 73 67 67,

208 P Lawrie (Sco) 68 73 67, S Hansen (Den) 69 69 70, E Grillo (Arg) 70 70 68, O Wilson (Eng) 71 71 66,

209 M Kieffer (Ger) 70 71 68, R Fisher (Eng) 71 69 69, A Hansen (Den) 68 73 68, O Fisher  (Eng) 69 70 70, A Sullivan (Eng) 71 71 67, S Benson (Eng) 69 73 67, M Ilonen  (Fin) 66 75 68, G Coetzee (RSA) 68 73 68, Y Yang (Kor) 70 70 69, R Jacquelin (Fra) 69 71 69, M Lorenzo-Vera  (Fra) 69 69 71,

210 A Noren  (Swe) 67 75 68, S Hend (Aus) 70 70 70, K Broberg (Swe) 69 71 70, A Cañizares  (Esp) 69 70 71,

211 C Lee (Sco) 73 68 70, R Sterne  (RSA) 71 70 70, E Els (RSA) 70 72 69, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 72 67 72, D McGrane (Irl) 71 69 71, J Rose (Eng) 73 69 69, N Colsaerts  (Bel) 68 71 72, A Johnston (Eng) 73 68 70, J Garcia Pinto (Esp) 70 71 70,

212 B Dredge (Wal) 72 70 70, J Singh (Ind) 68 73 71, R Paratore (Ita) 70 69 73, A Lahiri (Ind) 72 68 72, D Willett  (Eng) 70 71 71, R Rock (Eng) 69 73 70, S Khan (Eng) 73 67 72,

213 J Carlsson (Swe) 70 72 71, M Nixon (Eng) 68 71 74,

214 R Bland (Eng) 69 73 72, T Olesen (Den) 72 69 73, J Kruger (RSA) 74 68 72, O Farr (Wal) 73 69 72,

215 D Drysdale (Sco) 70 71 74, R Fowler  (USA) 67 75 73,

217 G Tian-Lang (Chn) 70 69 78,

218 J Palmer (Eng) 71 71 76.