World No. 2 Rory McIlroy tumbled off the Alpine summit with a sloppy bogey, bogey finish on day three of the Omega European Masters at Crans Montana.
A clearly tired-looking McIlroy was tied for the lead with two holes to play but proceeded to drop two shots in an eventual round of one-under par 69 that saw him slip to a share of fifth place at 11-under par on the Crans-sur-Sierre course.
Argentina’s Anders Romero superbly fought back from a fifth hole double-bogey that saw him fall to three-over through five to then play his closing 13 holes in eight-under par for a round of four-under par 66 and a one shot lead at 14-under par.
Aussie Wade Ormsby, who bogeyed the last in a round of 67, is in second place at 13-under par with former European No.1 Tommy Fleetwood (68) and overnight leader Gavin Green of Malaysia (68) at 12-under par.
McIlroy’s finish to day three of the co-sanctioned event was in stark contrast to a day earlier when he equalled his best round in the event in brilliantly finishing birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie and par in a sensational seven-under par 63.
But much akin to politics, there are never two days the same in golf with McIlroy struggling in producing five birdies but also three bogeys.
He went into the third round at 10-under par, trailing just a shot from the lead before dropping a shot at his first hole.
McIlroy regrouped to birdie the second hole for a second day in a row and then for a third day running the four-time Major winner birdied the stunning par-4 seventh.
McIlroy then went into a share of the lead with birdies at 10 and 12 ahead of dropping a shot on the par-5 14th in finding a water hazard on a hole he had walked off with a birdie for the prior two days. In fact, McIlroy produced a mammoth 415-yard drive down the 14th and had just a wedge into the green guarded by water.
He then made amends in birdieing the par-5 15th before his par putt on the penultimate hole somehow stayed out. Unfortunately the error was compounded when he went into the fairway bunker on the last. Although McIlroy had a near-perfect lie, he proceeded to find the nasty little water hazard guarding the right side of the final green.
“I don’t know what happened there at the end,” he said.
“I probably felt a little flat out there and a little tired, and maybe it all just caught-up with me. I am looking forward to getting into bed early tonight and get a good night’s sleep as I am pretty tired.
“I felt I played pretty solid and while I did make a few mistakes coming in, if I can go out and play a good front nine tomorrow I will be right in it.”
After taking a penalty shot at 18, McIlroy found the green to be lying four and certainly needed to hole the 10-footer to not drop four behind Romero. He did just that in sending the ball to the bottom of the cup much to the delight of yet again, a record Swiss attendance.
“I had a feeling if I held my bogey putt there on 18, Wade (Ormsby) was maybe going to miss his, and he did but then Anders had a par there so I am only three behind,” he said.
“So, and as I said, if I get off to a good start tomorrow and play those tough first four holes in a couple under, then I will be right there.
“I still have the same objective as I had at the start of the week and that is I would love to win here. I just didn’t quite have it today like the previous couple of days, especially yesterday with that finish, so I just need to gather myself and get rested-up and put everything I have into tomorrow.”