PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Rory McIlroy continues to be baffled by TPC Sawgrass, on the front nine anyway.
For the third straight day, the former world No. 1 was over par on the front only to rally on the back with three straight birdies to cap a 69 that leaves him 3 under through three rounds of THE PLAYERS Championship.
The disparity between how McIlroy has played the two nines has been massive -- a combined 9 over on the front compared to 12 under on the back.
Or the difference between him contending and being well down the leaderboard in the PGA TOUR's flagship event.
"I'm really happy with how I've been able to come back the last couple of days, but it's also a little frustrating that I've had to come back," said McIlroy. "because I feel like I'm playing good enough to not have these little stretches of bad holes."
Saturday, McIlroy again struggled from the start, bogeying the first hole after three-putting from 22 feet.
He then doubled the fourth after hitting his approach shot into the water on the par 4 before adding another bogey on 6 when he failed to get up-and-down from in front of the green.
The rest of the day he was 7 under.
"I felt like I wasn't playing as badly as the score was suggesting today," McIlroy said. "I'd hit five greens in seven holes, and I was 4‑over par. I hadn't really done much wrong. I had three really big lip‑outs on the front nine, but it was nice to see a putt go in on 7, holed one from off the green, which was a bonus. I was in a decent frame of mind going into the back nine."
Rory McIlroy's Round 3 highlights at THE PLAYERS