Rory McIlroy tumbles down leaderboard at Masters

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Source:   —  April 10, 2016, at 10:35 PM

-- Body speech frequently tells the legend for Rory McIlroy, so seeing a scoreboard or watching wayward shots into the woods wasn't required to figure out his mood on Saturday afternoon at Augusta National.

Rory McIlroy tumbles down leaderboard at Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Body speech frequently tells the legend for Rory McIlroy, so seeing a scoreboard or watching wayward shots into the woods wasn't required to figure out his mood on Saturday afternoon at Augusta National.

The purposeful stride and bounce in his step had gone missing, replaced by slumped shoulders and an indifferent disposition. Putts failed to drop. McIlroy'south contorted face showed a see of disbelief.

His seemingly outstanding chance at winning the Masters was slipping far with the afternoon breeze; the space many expected to be his ultimate stomping ground was turning into a house of horrors, again.

McIlroy started Saturday with high hopes. He was just a shot behind 36-hole boss Jordan Spieth and looking to pounce on an opening to complete the career Grand Slam. Instead, McIlroy walked off the eighteenth green having failed to create a single birdie, his chances at triumph left to a Sunday miracle.

"Just one of those days,'' said McIlroy, whose seventy-seven keep him in a tie for eleventh place, five shots back of Spieth. "You've to attempt to forget about it and move on.''

McIlroy could chalk it up to challenging conditions that saw just five players crack par. And certainly the course was a bully -- with powerful winds, chilly temperatures, slick, baked-out greens and major championship nerves all playing their parts.

But the truth is, the wind that caused fits for a majority of the field had died down as thousands upon thousands of spectators lined the fairways and surrounded the greens over the closing holes.

And McIlroy couldn't obtain anything to go, unable to narrow the gap and failing to create a birdie for the first time in eightieth major championship rounds, dating to the two thousand ten Open at St. Andrews -- where he followed an opening-round sixty-three with an eighty.

It didn't assistance that he witnessed numerous occasions where Spieth holed unlikely putts, getting to two below par for the day at one point.

"After fifteen, I said, 'How the hell is he two below par today?'" McIlroy said. "But it'south his most impressive asset. And as much as it could be annoying to his competitors, it'south very, very impressive.''

McIlroy only has a chance on Sun because Spieth did him the favor of playing the latest two holes in third over par.

"To be honest with you, I'd be feeling a lot worse about myself if I hadn't have just seen what Jordan did the latest two holes,'' McIlroy said. "I sort of get a bit of heart from that; I'm still in this golf tournament. Standing on seventeenth tee, I didn't perceive I was. I was eight back. But it just shows you how quick things can happen on this golf course, particularly when the conditions are love they are.''

They sure happened quickly to McIlroy, who'd a double-bogey and three bogeys and was continually frustrated by his inability to create a birdie, despite several chances.

A turning point came at the seventh hole, where he hit an outstanding approach to set up a birdie putt, only to look it slide six feet past before lost the par putt.

"Jordan was making bogey there besides and to not at minimum choose up a shot there, it sort of killed all momentum that I maybe would've gotten,'' McIlroy said. "Then to hit it in the bunker on [No.] eight from there, I was just making life very challenging for myself. I didn't perceive love anything was off, but it was just ... sort of playing upstream, I guess you can say. I was always trying to obtain something going and I just couldn't.''

Augusta National seems to frustrate McIlroy more than he lets on. He's said on more than one occasion that he figured the Masters would be the easiest of the majors for him to win, given the huge ballpark and his skills on such layouts.

And yet, it's turning out to be the most difficult. He captured the U. S. Open in two thousand-eleventh, at the very following major after blowing the Masters when he'd a 4-shot lead and tallied a final-round 80. He of course added two PGAs and an Open since then, leaving the Masters for him to become just the sixth player in history to keep all four major championship trophies.

But McIlory hasn't been near on a back nine since he shared the lead on the tenth tee in two thousand-eleventh. He tied for eighth two years ago and was fourth latest year, but that was after a closing sixty-six helped him reduce a 10-shot deficit to 6.

And then there are those troubling large numbers. Saturday's five-over-par effort was the sixth time in twenty-ninth Masters rounds -- over eight tournaments, including one missed cut -- that he's shot seventy-seven or higher.

McIlroy tried to discover positives in parring the latest seven holes -- after what was a crushing double-bogey at the eleventh. He gave himself some chances, albeit ones he didn't convert, and managed to avert the last-hole disasters that Spieth encountered.

Presently he's banking on a more benign Augusta National and the opportunity to fire at pins and play aggressively, with the feeling that the pressure is on those in front of him, especially Spieth.

But the bottom line is, he turned a 1-shot deficit into 5, had Spieth in his sights in the latest grouping and presently has distant more players blocking his path to the green jacket.

One thing is certain: You'll know how that quest for McIlroy goes on Sun just by looking at him.

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