ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy felt like punching himself after a dire performance with the putter in the third round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Saturday which all but ended his hopes of starting 2015 with a title.
The world number one began the day two strokes behind leader Martin Kaymer but come his final putt he was eight adrift of the German, who now seems certain to claim a fourth Abu Dhabi crown.
McIlroy, 25, carded a one-under-par 71, making two birdies and a bogey, despite missing just two fairways and one green in regulation.
“I feel like punching myself,” the Northern Irishman told reporters.
“I didn’t putt well at all. From tee to green I’ve never felt more comfortable. I’m driving the ball great. It’s just a matter of capitalizing on the chances you give yourself and I didn’t do that today.”
Among the Northern Irishman’s woes were a scuffed birdie chance on the ninth that lipped out and a bogey on 13 after chipping past the hole.
His rotten putting continued, missing birdie chances from 15-20 feet on three straight holes before dribbling an eight-footer wide on the final green to cap a miserable display with the short stick that left him looking away in disbelief.
“I tried to stay as patient as possible but it was very frustrating – I kept giving myself birdie chances and was not able to convert any of them,” said the four-times major winner.
“I started the ball on line for the most part but struggled with the speed as well, so (it’s a) combination of that.”
McIlroy won the last two majors - the British Open and the U.S. PGA Championship – and the serial winner said he was determined to end positively in Abu Dhabi.
“I’m going to have to do something a bit better on the greens tomorrow to shoot a good number and finish the tournament off well – (I’m) obviously playing for second place tomorrow,” McIlroy added.
Editing by Ed Osmond