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November 2 2013

9:40 AM

McIlroy heading in right direction

Rory MciIlroy will begin the final round six shots back at Sheshan.
Zhang/Getty Images

Even though his second-round 72 likely took him out of the tournament, former World No. 1 Rory McIlroy says his season debut was a success this week at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.

McIlroy began the third round only five shots back, but his Saturday 67 actually cost him ground. That's because the leaders, namely Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, were all threatening the course record on a great day for scoring.

"Yeah, there's no wind today, and the course was a little softer, as well, just because of the moisture in the air," McIlroy said. "So there were good scores to be had out there obviously. Shooting 67 seemed pretty average, to be honest."

Still, there are numerous bright spots. McIlroy has managed to keep the big numbers off his card -- he's yet to make a double bogey this week. The penchant for blowup holes helped derail his 2013 season. In his last TOUR start before this week (September's BMW Championship), he made four double-bogeys and a triple bogey in 72 holes.

McIlroy played three events in the FedExCup Playoffs and managed to rack up 12 double bogeys. The last tournament McIlroy's played without a double bogey? THE PLAYERS in May. 

Can he go low Sunday to win for the first time since 2012?

"I'm giving myself plenty of chances for birdies still and I'm up there contending," said McIlroy. "Still a little bit of work to do on a few areas of the game, but it's definitely heading in the right direction."

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