McIlroy and McDowell see hopes slide on front nine at Pinehurst
Irish challenge fails to materialise in third round
Rory McIlroy watches his tee shot on the fourth hole during the third round of the US Open Championship at Pinehurst in North Carolina. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters
The dream faded for Rory McIlroy and was extinguished for Graeme McDowell as the two Northern Irishmen suffered horrendous outward journeys in their respective third rounds in the 114th US Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina.
McIlroy covered the front nine in a card-wrecking 40 strokes and, even though he steadied the ship and came home in 34 to sign for a 74, for three-over-par 213, his hopes of a second US Open title to add to his 2011 success were effectively ended.
Likewise, McDowell suffered a dreadful front nine – which included an untypical run of four successive bogeys from the sixth – as he carded a 75 for 217 to leave his dream in tatters. G-Mac headed immediately to the range after his round in an effort to sort out chinks in his swing.
McIlroy’s outward run proved his undoing, including an episode on the Par 5 fifth where an attempted recovery shot from a bunker rolled back into the trap. The 25-year-old world number six suffered five bogeys on the front nine, including three-in-a-row from the fourth.
An indication of McIlroy’s problems on the front nine was exemplified by his play of the fifth, where he hit a huge drive and had only a seven-iron approach to the Par 5 and walked away with bogey.
In finding only 56 per cent of greens in regulation, McIlroy also put his short game under pressure.
Insisting he hadn’t adopted an aggressive mindset in his pursuit of 54-hole leader Martin Kaymer, McIlroy said: “I’m very disappointed I couldn’t keep it together . . . even somewhere around par would have been a good score. I’ve come in here playing well and I still feel I’m playing well, driving the ball well, hitting good irons. It’s just not being precise enough.”