The Open: Rory McIlroy disappointed with costly finish to third round
By Keith Jackson at Carnoustie
Last Updated: 22/07/18 2:41pm
Rory McIlroy left Carnoustie a frustrated figure after he bogeyed two of the last three holes to slip four shots off the lead after the third round of The Open.
McIlroy had fought hard to get within two strokes of defending champion Jordan Spieth when he birdied the 14th and 15th, but he three-putted from off the green at 16 before getting away with a poor tee shot at the next to salvage par.
But his ragged finish continued at the last, where his second ended up in an awkward lie short and right of the green, and he was unable to hold his ball on the green with his pitch.
The 2014 champion holed from four feet to limit the damage to a single dropped shot which completed a round of 70 on a day when scores in the 60s were commonplace, with the first eight names on the leaderboard shooting no worse than 68.
"I'm obviously disappointed after the way I finished, but I'm still in the tournament and I'm only a few shots behind," said McIlroy afterwards. "I just need to get off to a fast start tomorrow. The wind is supposed to pick up a little bit, so it will make things interesting.
"I felt I did well to get to three under par for the round after 15, that was a good birdie there. And I would have taken three pars on the way in and would have been happy going two behind going into tomorrow."
McIlroy vowed to stick with his attacking gameplan over the final 18 holes as he bids to end his four-year wait for a fifth major title, and he added: "I'll go out and hit a lot of drivers.
"I felt like today the course was perfectly set up to take advantage of it and attack it. I tried to do that for the most part, but maybe my wedge play wasn't quite as good as it should have been. I gave myself plenty of chances, and I just need to regroup and get ready for tomorrow.
"I've got a bit of experience at this, and maybe more so than some of the other guys on the leaderboard. But the leaderboard is packed with a lot of very, very good players. I played with Xander today and he didn't really put a foot wrong. Obviously, Jordan had a great round, so there's a lot of great players up there around the lead.
"The only good thing is there's not many players in between me and the lead, it's not that bunched. There are a lot of people behind at three and four under, but between five and nine there's only a handful of guys, which is nice.
McIlroy also accused a photographer of being "in a world of his own" as he lined up his crucial putt at the 16th, and he said: "He was taking a photo of the crowd instead of paying attention to the golf. That's one of the things that happens.
"There are a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It's probably my fault, but I just didn't regroup well after it happened."