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Rory McIlroy at Masters 2016: Leaderboard Score, Twitter Reaction from Saturday

Rory McIlroy at Masters 2016: Leaderboard Score, Twitter Reaction from Saturday

Rory McIlroy at Masters 2016: Leaderboard Score, Twitter Reaction from Saturday

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Rory McIlroy‘s pursuit of his first career green jacket hit a major stumbling block Saturday, as he shot a five-over 77 in the third round of the 2016 Masters, which leaves him in a tie for 11th place entering Sunday’s final round.

The 26-year-old star is five strokes behind leader Jordan Spieth at two-over for the tournament. Here is a snapshot of what McIlroy must contend with Sunday on the leaderboard if he hopes to score a come-from-behind victory:

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McIlroy birdied three of his final six holes Friday to enter the third round just one shot behind Spieth, but strokes were difficult to pick up Saturday at windy Augusta National Golf Club. The Northern Irishman finished his third round with no birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey:

Rory McIlroy’s 2016 Masters Scorecard – 3rd Round
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Out
Par 4 5 4 3 4 3 4 5 4 36
Round 3 4 5 5 3 4 3 5 5 4 38
Overall Score -3 -3 -2 -2 -2 -2 -1 -1 -1 -1
Hole 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In
Par 4 4 3 5 4 5 3 4 4 36
Round 3 5 6 3 5 4 5 3 4 4 39
Overall Score E +2 +2 +2 +2 +2 +2 +2 +2 +2

PGATour.com

According to ESPN Stats & Info, McIlroy hadn’t gone an entire major round without a birdie in six years prior to Saturday:

Rory did well to play himself into the final pairing Saturday with a great finish to his second round, and it set the stage for a dream scenario among golf fans, as he played alongside Spieth.

According to Justin Ray of GolfChannel.com, it was a history-making pairing at the Masters, which had the golf world buzzing for good reason:

Despite that, McIlroy entered the round focused on his own game rather than the fact he was paired with the defending Masters champ, per Christopher Clarey of the New York Times:

I don’t think I can get wrapped up in that and buy into the Big 3 [with Spieth and Jason Day]. Of course, it’s great for the game. But whenever I’m out there playing and competing, that’s absolutely not what I should be thinking about. I should be concentrating on myself and thinking about what I need to do to win this golf tournament, regardless of who else is up there.

Statistically speaking, however, playing with Spieth is something that had favored him significantly leading up to Saturday’s round:

McIlroy held steady by parring five of his first six holes, although a bogey on the par-four third cost him a stroke. The four-time major champion then bogeyed the seventh as well, and he stepped onto the back nine needing to find some birdies.

Unfortunately for Rory, the 10th, 11th and 12th holes have been major issues for him at Augusta over the course of his career, and that held true to form Saturday.

McIlroy bogeyed the par-four 10th and then struggled to a double-bogey six on No. 11 to drop to a disappointing five-over on the day and two-over for the tournament.

ESPN’s Mike Greenberg predicted that a rough stretch of holes may have essentially eliminated the former world No. 1 from contention:

ESPN.com’s Jason Sobel summed up McIlroy‘s fall from grace at the Masters simply and fittingly following the double bogey:

Although Rory slayed one-third of his 10 through 12 demons by parring No. 12, the damage had already been done.

As evidenced by this stat, courtesy of the European Tour, those three holes are primarily to blame for the fact that the Masters is the one major title missing from McIlroy‘s resume:

In addition to McIlroy‘s own struggles on the course Saturday, ESPN.com’s Ian O’Connor suggested that Spieth‘s championship-level play may have contributed to the Northern Irish star’s drop-off as well:

While McIlroy continued to grind and attempted to get himself back in the mix, Shane Bacon of Fox Sports pointed out that CBS had seemingly given up on him making a run, as evidenced by his lack of television time:

Rory managed to stabilize himself by parring each of his final seven holes, but after dropping so many strokes on the 10th and 11th holes, he needed birdies.

The difficult course conditions could make for some wild, unpredictable moments during Sunday’s final round, but it is tough to envision McIlroy challenging for the lead at any point.

Spieth left the door open a bit by going three over on his final two holes Saturday, but McIlroy is still five shots back and has several other players to bypass, which makes his potential road to victory extremely tough to navigate.

The third round was hugely disappointing for McIlroy and those rooting for a Sunday duel between him and Spieth in the wake of such a strong finish to the second round.

Rory still has a chance to register a good finish, and perhaps even sneak into the top five, but it appears as though he will be forced to wait at least one more year before donning the green jacket, barring a spectacular round and some help along the way.

Post-Round Reaction

McIlroy put himself in an extremely difficult spot after the third round, and although he wasn’t thrilled with his performance, he still believes he has a chance to make a run, according to Jonathan Jurejko of BBC.com: “I couldn’t get anything going really. I am disappointed. I felt like I righted the ship a little on the back nine but couldn’t take the few opportunities I gave myself. If I am to take heart from anything then it’s the fact Jordan has just let a lot of people in after his finish.”

Per Ron Mintz of MintzGolf.com, McIlroy intends to be aggressive and do everything possible to take advantage of the opportunity he has been afforded Sunday:

The odds aren’t in McIlroy’s favor, but due to the tough conditions leveling the playing field, he can’t be completely written off quite yet.

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.