By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. -- Rory McIlroy arrived at TPC Boston hoping a return trip to the site of one of his six career PGA TOUR victories would spark something in his game.
Friday, he left there frustrated after a "sloppy" 1-under 70.
"I'm making a lot of birdies but also making a lot of stupid little mistakes," said the defending champion. "If I can cut those out, it's a different story."
Instead it was more of the same for McIlroy, who is winless this season.
The day began promisingly enough with two birdies in the first three holes for the former world No. 1. But he quickly gave them back with a bogey on No. 14 after hitting into a greenside bunker and another on the par-3 16th when he three-putted from 28 feet.
It was the first of two three-putts on the afternoon for McIlroy, who finished his day with 31 putts despite hitting 13 greens in regulation.
"The mistakes are coming from missing it in the wrong spots," said McIlroy, who also hit 10 of 14 fairways.
Case in point: Standing in the middle of the first fairway with a sand wedge in his hand, McIlroy's approach came up 25 feet short of the hole. He three-putted, missing a 3 1/2-foot putt to save par.
On the fifth, McIlroy was again in the middle of the short grass and just 140 yards from the hole. He left his approach shot 22 feet from the flag and three-putted again.
"It's a bit mental but I still made six birdies, so not that much is wrong," McIlroy said of his score that has him seven shots off the lead. "It's the worst it could have been."