AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy's Masters dreams were dashed once again after a five-over par 77 on Saturday dropped him out of contention and left him with no chance of making amends for his final round collapse last year.
The Northern Irishman began the day well placed, tied for third, but ended it among those in 27th place and 10 shots behind leader Peter Hanson of Sweden.
The world number two began a shot behind overnight leaders Fred Couples and Jason Dufner but started with a double-bogey on the first hole and never recovered, making 42 on the front nine.
Last year McIlroy held a four-shot lead at the start of the final day but an horrific 80 cost him the title.
"It seems like every year I come here I throw a bad nine holes out there. 42 today wasn't a great effort," McIlroy told reporters. "I just couldn't hit any fairways. When you can't hit fairways around here you make life a lot more difficult for yourself.
"I was hanging in there, made a really good up‑and‑down on four and on six. Making double on seven, that really knocked everything out of me and it was hard to get any momentum going after that," he added.
McIlroy's honesty is matched by his optimism and refusal to let a bad day destroy his morale.
Last year, he bounced back from his final round flop at Augusta to enjoy his first major title in the U.S. Open.
He has more modest aims for Sunday's final round.
"The good thing is it wasn't on the last day. I can go out there tomorrow, try and shoot a good score, try and finish well, get a top 10 or a top five or whatever if I can shoot a really good one and at least leave here in a positive frame of mind," he said.
"I think if I can finish top 10 it would be a really good result. So if I can go out there tomorrow and shoot something in the mid 60s and walk away from here with a top 10, I'd be very pleased."
Editing by Peter Rutherford