World No. 1 Rory McIlroy confessed for every step he took forward, he soon found himself taking one step back shortly afterward during a frustrating third round at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
McIlroy dropped 14 spots to fall back into a share of 18th place at 10-under par after a roller-coaster round of 69 that included five birdies and one less bogey.
“Every time I took a step forward, I took a step back a couple holes later,” he said.
“I just sort of stood still compared to everyone else that was going low out there. Disappointing day.”
McIlroy, still chasing a first victory in this COVID-19 affected 2019/20 wraparound season now finds himself trailing eight shots behind American Brendon Todd.
Todd, 34 produced a career low 61 and muscled his way to a two-shot lead at 18-under par as the Atlanta golfer seeks his fourth Tour title.
“There’s just a lot of scoring holes and the greens are really, really good this year, so people are able to make a lot of putts,” said Todd.
Asked if there was another 61 in his bag, Todd remarked: “It very well could. That just depends on how the four or five guys behind me play.
“My job is going to be to go out there and get off to a good start and just try to make as many birdies as I can and see if I can’t shoot another good round.”
Former World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who celebrated his 36th birthday a few days ago is in second place after also recording a 61 and he sits at 16-under par.
“It would be a great late birthday present if I were to win,” he said.
“I celebrated Monday hanging out with the kids all morning, went fishing with the boys and kind of just hung around the house and then flew up here.”
As for McIlroy, his round began with a bogey and included birdies at the second, sixth and ninth holes before the only highlight of his round in managing back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14 to move to 14-under.
However, any thoughts of a strong finish faded with McIlroy bogeying his 15th and final holes.
“My game is just a little erratic,” he said.
“The good stuff is in there, but obviously there’s a bit of bad, too. Sort of just putting it down to having those few months off and not really sort of finding my rhythm yet.
“Hopefully post a low one tomorrow and have a week off before going up to Columbus for a couple of weeks.
“I know that this is a golf course that if you can go out there and play well, you can shoot something like Brendon or DJ shot today.
“It would be a nice way to finish the week, shoot a low one and have a week off to maybe work on a couple things and get back at it.”
And any joy Open Champ Shane Lowry savoured on Friday in making a halfway cut for the first occasion in three weeks was soured with a third round 74 that saw Lowry drop 24 spots and back into a share of 66th at one-under par.
It placed Lowry tied with England’s Ian Poulter (73) in second last place among those who made the Connecticut cut.