Rory McIlroy emerged from two days in the Liberty National wilderness to remind everyone he was still around in posting a 66 on day three of the Northern Trust in New Jersey.
Mclroy sandwiched an only bogey of his round at the eighth hole in between three outward nine birdies and then added three birdies over his closing nine to move six-under par.
The four-time Major winner had only just managed to make the cut and be among nine players, including third round playing partner and next month’s Ryder Cup team-mate Paul Casey, who made the cut right on the one-under mark.
The duo teed-up in the third group of the morning with Casey also shooting 66 to also move to six-under with the pair completing their rounds well before World No. 1 and tournament leader, Jon Rahm, was due out.
McIlroy and Casey had jumped 39 spots to be tied in 24th place as they headed to the clubhouse but as more and more players ended their round they slowly slipped down the board.
It’s hard to single out the best of McIlroy’s birdies suffice to say, his longest birdie putt was a nine-footer at the par-4 12 hole and the shortest being a three-footer at the par-4 16th.
“I drove the ball well and if you look at any stats the first couple days, I gained a half a stroke over the field the first two days,” he said.
“I don’t feel like I drove the ball that badly. I hit a couple (of) destructive approach shots yesterday which cost me a little bit. I putted well.
“I just got to have poor starts the first couple days and then was trying to claw my way back. Yeah, that was sort of it. Got off to a better start today obviously and still didn’t play par 5’s well. I played the par 5’s at even par or 1-over for the week. You start to play those a bit better and the score all of a sudden goes from, whatever I’m at, 6-under, to double digits, at least, and you’re in the golf tournament.
“So, that was really the difference. I’ve putted well the last couple days and I made enough birdies — I think I’ve made 16 birdies for the week. Just a few too many mistakes”.
McIlroy’s right in that he’s posted 16 birdies and not wrong as regards his mistakes include five bogeys on day one, a bogey and a double on day two and the lone bogey on day three.
The Tour is predicting that McIlroy will drop one place to 27th on the FedEx Cup standings.