Rory McIlroy lipped out for albatross on the 18th but even though he only had to hole from two and a half feet for a closing eagle three he reckons his improved putting has taken the pressure off the rest of his game and boosted his chances of a late FedExCup run.
The world No 4 added five under par 66 to his second round 67 to share seventh place on nine under par, six strokes behind leader Paul Casey in the Deutsche Bank Championship but a lot closer to his A game than at any time this season.
With just one round to go at TPC Boston and with his confidence with the putter growing with every round, McIlroy believes he challenge the leaders today and move up the standings and inside the Top 30 heading to the third leg of the Play-offs in next week’s BMW Championship in Indiana.
“It’s nice,” McIlroy said of his improve form with the blade. "I don’t feel as under pressure with my long game now to hit it inside three feet the whole time. I feel I can give myself chances from 10, 15, 20 feet and have a good chance of holing them.
“It was just that little bit of confidence from yesterday, carried into today. I made four birdies in a row on the front nine and holed out well on the back nine as well.”
With playing partner Harris English just 18 inches away in two at the 514 yard 18th, McIlroy’s 210 yard four-iron pitched three feet short, caught the edge of the hole and lipped out, finishing inside three feet for an eagle finish to a 26-putt round that also featured six birdies, one bogey and a double bogey six at the 12th.
On his near albatross at the 18th, he said: “It was worth the wait. I had to back off twice because the wind was gusting and I didn’t know if I had enough club in the end.
“I hit a four iron as good as I could and buttoned itand it looked good for a while. Harris gave me something to aim at there, he hit a great shot in.
“And even lipping out for albatross, I still didn’t get inside him but it was obviously a nice way to finish with an eagle there and with the conditions as tricky as they are today, hopefully I will be in with a shout tomorrow.”
The Ulsterman is rebuilding his putting technique with Englishman Phil Kenyon in an attempt to be ready for the Masters next year.
And while he’s happy he’s seeing results early, he knows it’s a long term process.
“As I said yesterday, it bodes well for the future,” McIlroy said. “It is only the second weekend of trying to change what I am doing. I am already showing some signs of really good stuff.”
Casey shot a third consecutive 66 to lead by three strokes on 15 under par from Brian Harman (68) with Smylie Kaufman (68), Jimmy Walker (70) and overnight leader Kevin Chappell( 71) four off the pace in third.
Ryan Moore (68) is solo sixth on 10 under with McIlroy sharing seventh with Louis Oosthuizen (64), Tony Finau (68), Olympic champion Justin Rose (69).