Rory McIlroy came roaring back with an eagle and two birdies on his bogey-free front nine, only to bogey two his last three holes. By day’s end, he was six shots behind, and his quest to win three consecutive majors surely will now fall short.
He also will have to wait to complete a career Grand Slam, which for him is lacking a Masters victory.
“I’ve really just tried to treat it like a normal golf tournament or treat it like any other year,” McIlroy said after his 68 left him at 6-under-par 210. “Any other year that I’ve come to the Masters, I’ve done the same things. I wasn’t approaching it like I was trying to win the grand slam. I was approaching it like I was trying to win another golf tournament. So I don’t think it’s really had any impact on the way I’ve played this week.”
Third-round leader Jordan Spieth, now No. 4 in the world, has been very public about his desire to overtake McIlroy as the No. 1 player, but the 25-year-old Irishman said he’s paid no attention to such talk.
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“I just have to worry about myself and try and play the best that I can,” he said. “I know if I do that, then the No. 1 position is pretty safe. He’s obviously been playing great golf since the end of last year … being in contention basically every time he plays. He’s playing very well, but I know I have the capability to do the same thing.”
▪ Erik Compton’s wife Barbara was a no-show at Augusta National on Saturday, unable to watch her husband’s third round because she sprained her ankle Friday coming down a step at their rented house.
She was definitely a gamer after it happened, walking the front nine with Compton on Friday before deciding to call it a painful day. She stayed off it again on Saturday just as a precaution.
“She’s fine,” Compton said after completing his third round. “Nothing serious at all.”
▪ It was a tough week for the six amateurs at Augusta National. None of them made the cut. Canadian Corey Conners, runner-up in the U.S. Amateur to earn his berth here, opened with an 80 on Thursday, then settled down with a splendid 69 in the second round that left him as low amateur in the field.
That 69 left him at 5-over and three shots off the 2-over cut line. He also will not be present in the Butler Cabin on Sunday evening for the green jacket ceremony. The silver cup that goes to the low amateur will not be awarded, because he did not make the cut.
Conners decided to turn professional on Monday and will play his first event next week at the Heritage in Hilton Head, South Carolina. He edged out Byron Meth for low Masters amateur by a shot. Meth, a senior at the University of Pacific, got into the field as the winner of the U.S. Public Links Championship. He also is planning to turn pro in the coming weeks.
▪ It’s been a big year for 58-year-old Mark O’Meara, who won the Masters in 1998 at the age of 41. He’s been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and this week, he made the cut at the Masters for the first time in 10 years, finishing 36 holes at 3-under. On Saturday, he couldn’t sustain it, shooting 77 on Saturday.
“I’m kind of surprised, but I’m not surprised,” O’Meara said of making the cut. “I think experience plays a big factor round Augusta National, kind of playing the course a bunch, realizing you need to respect the golf course and when to maybe be a little more aggressive. … There’s a lot of things going on in my life, a lot of positive things. That kind of motivates me and drives me to play better.”
O’Meara had five birdies and a bogey in his Friday round of 68. It was his best Masters round since he posted a 68 on Sunday in 2001.
▪ Jim Furyk was among several big-name players to miss the cut, shooting 73 on Friday and posting 3-over after 36 holes, one shot away from playing on the weekend. Furyk has had top-25 finishes here each of the past four years and has missed the cut only three times in his 19 appearances.
“I’m disappointed because I really had some good practices Monday through Wednesday,” he said. “I felt really good about my game. I really couldn’t have asked for more from Monday to Wednesday, but it didn’t translate to the last couple of days.”
U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer was at 7-under and heading out the door, along with Fred Couples, at 9-over, to miss the cut for the first time since 2009. Other notable names to take the weekend off were J.B. Holmes, who won last week in Houston, Brandt Snedeker, who prevailed at Pebble Beach in February, and Billy Horschel, who won the FedEx Cup last year.