By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Rory McIlroy continues to say he's "close" and for the better part of 16 holes at Liberty National on Thursday, he was.
Then came the par-4 ninth, where he tugged his driver a bit and his ball bounced off a cart path and out of bounds. He went on to make double bogey, his third of the day.
"Colorful," said McIlroy, who also had four birdies and an eagle en route to an even-par 71. "I made a few silly mistakes out there."
The first of those mistakes came on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole of the day, where he pulled his tee shot left and into the tall grass and then missed the green left on his next. McIlroy pitched back across and off the green before eventually two-putting from 6 feet for his first double bogey.
On the par-4 fifth he missed left again, this time yanking his approach shot from 162 yards into the water to set up the second double bogey.
He rebounded quickly by reaching the 514-yard par-5 sixth in two and making a 13-footer for eagle before pouring in a 28-footer for birdie on the following hole.
But McIlroy missed a golden opportunity to keep the momentum going on the par-5 eighth, however, leaving his approach short of the green and then leaving himself 15 feet for birdie after at best a mediocre pitch.
"I felt like I played well," he said. "Three 6s, which obviously doesn't help. But the rest of it was actually pretty good."