Defending champion Rory McIlroy got the fast start he desired in the third round of the DP World Tour Championship, but after doing all the hard work in the opening 10 holes, he failed to capitalize on the back nine of the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates yesterday.
The world No2 moved to within four shots of the lead after four birdies, but missed short chances to add to that number on the 11thand 13th holes, and then failed to make a birdie on the par-4 14th hole.
But worse was yet to come. After a cracking drive on the par-5 18th, he was left with a 207 yard second shot to the green, but he pulled it and found the water hazard, from where he could not get his up-and-down for par.
The bogey left a bad taste in his mouth and McIlroy said after his round of four-under par 68: “I think I turned a 62 in to a 68 somehow, it was just one of those days.
“I hit a lot of good shots but didn’t hole many putts.
“(I hit) a great drive, second shot had 207 (yards) to the pin into the wind. Maybe just was a little too aggressive with it and pulled it slightly and just got punished for a bad shot.
“It could have been a lot better than it was and I could have got back in to it, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“I want to go out and play well tomorrow, try and post a good score and feel good about myself going into the next couple of months before I tee it up again.”
McIlroy also spoke about his interview with the nine-year-old Billy Jenkins, which has gone viral. In the interview, Billy asked him a range of uncomfortable questions, including his take on Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and favourite women’s tennis player.
“It was much tougher than what you guys ask. It was good, though. It was a lot of fun,” said McIlroy.
“Gibbo (European Tour media officer Michael Gibbons) gave me a call the week before and said, ‘How close to the bone can we go?’ And I said, ‘Look, I don’t mind, you can go as close as you want’. I wasn’t quite expecting some of the questions that came up, but it was all in good fun.
“I definitely had to put my thinking hat on a couple of times and try to wiggle out of a couple of them as best I could.
“I had said it was fine. I’ll take it well and I don’t mind laughing at myself. It was all good fun. I had a great time. It’s nice to be able to show people I can still laugh at myself.”