Rory McIlroy knows he must cut out the mistakes after he was forced to dig deep just to keep leaders Justin Rose and Tiger Woods in his sights in Tour Championship at East Lake.
The Holywood star (29) dropped shots at the 12th and 14th to slip back to level for the day.
But while he brilliantly birdied the 15th and 17th, he missed a 10 footer for another birdie after a weak chip from greenside rough at the par-five 18th and had to settle for a two-under 68.
That left him alone in third on five-under-par, just two shots behind Woods and Rose in the race for the title. Scores
Pleased with his birdie count but disappointed to make three bogeys, he said: "I'm making enough birdies — five birdies again today — but I made mistakes and didn't birdie either of the par-fives today.
"Had I been able to do that I'd be closer to the lead but nobody is going anywhere and I'll probably only be two behind going into the third day.
"It was nice to play the last four holes in two-under par."
Woods was impressive yet again, patiently turning in level par before three birdies in four holes from the 12th gave him a two-shot lead over Rose on eight under par.
But the 14-time major winner double bogeyed the 16th after plugging his ambitious approach from deep Bermuda in a fairway bunker.
Despite that mistake, he two-putted the 18th for birdie to post a two-under 68 ti match world number one Rose, who posted a three-under 67, on seven-under as Rickie Fowler shot 72 to slip to three-under.
“I ground out a round today,” Woods said. “I wasn’t as sharp today but I ground out a bunch of pars and made a few putts. It’s hard out there. Hard to get the ball close.”
Rose is projected to win the FedEx Cup after points leader Bryson DeChambeau shot a five-over 75 to slither to second last alongside Ryder Cup teammate Patrick Reed on six-over.
DeChambeau is just one ahead of US Open and US PGA winner Brooks Koepka, who shot a 78 that left him dead last in the 30-man field on seven-over.
Lowry three back in Portugal
Meanwhile, Paul Dunne will make his debut alongside Shane Lowry in the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf at The Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne from November 21-25.
The Wicklow man shot a second successive three-under 68 to share 25th on six-under in the Portugal Masters, six shots behind Ollie Fisher, who shot the European Tour’s first 59 to share the lead with Lucas Herbert and Eddie Pepperell on 12-under. Scores
Shane Lowry had to settle for a 69 after a closing bogey at the ninth, leaving him tied for eighth, just three behind on nine-under.
Pádraig Harrington and professional debutant Robin Dawson also shot 69 but missed the three under par cut on level par and one-over respectively.
Dawson will reappear on the European Tour when he plays on an invitation in next month’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.
Ford shoots 60 as Moynihan makes cut
On the Challenge Tour, England's Matt Ford shot a 12-under par 60, just hours after Oliver Fisher's historic 59 in Portugal, to lead the Hopps Open de Provence by five shots from Chile's Hugo Leon on 15-under par.
Mount Juliet's Gavin Moynihan was the only Irishman to make the cut, adding a 71 to his opening 70 to trail Ford by 12 shots on three-under in a tie for 24th.
Michael Hoey retired after his opening 79 but while Ruaidhri McGee (one-over) and Cormac Sharvin (two-over) shot 69s, they missed the one-under cut alongside Jonny Caldwell (nine-over), who posted a 77. Scores
Meadow tied ninth in Alabama; Leona battling
In Alabama, Stephanie Meadow made four birdies in an immaculate 68 to lie just three strokes behind Americans Kendall Dye and Avery George in the Symetra Tour,'s Guardian Championship in Alabama.
The Jordanstown native (26) is ranked second in the money list race for 10 LPGA Tour cards and with just two events remaining after this week and seeking a win that could see her regain her card as number one. Scores
Meadow is tied for ninth but Leona Maguire (23) struggled to a two-over 74 and while she needs a win to break into the top-10 from 34th in the money list, she can earn an exemption to the revamped Q-School finals if she can move into the top 30 after the season-ending Tour Championship.
On the PGA Tour Champions, Darren Clarke opened with a two-over 72 in the Sanford International in South Dakota to lie nine shots behind leaders Jerry Smith, Brandt Jobe and Steve Stricker. Scores