AUGUSTA, Ga. -- After all the build-up -- after the shirtless magazine covers, and the mini-documentaries put out by his sponsors -- Rory McIloy was just another guy well off the lead in the Masters, wondering where this week has gone wrong.
The short answer can be found in the play of Jordan Spieth. The long answer is McIlroy still hasn't quite figured out how to survive Augusta National unscathed.
"I don't know, silly mistakes," Rory McIlroy said when asked to explain his troubles here. "I definitely feel like I play this golf course better and better every year that I come here. . . . it's just a few stretches of holes have held me back and that's really been the case this year again.
Once as low as six under for his round after a birdie at the par-15 15th, McIlroy stumbled in with two bogeys in his last three holes to settle for a 69, at six-under par well out of reach of leader Spieth. And as disappointing as his finish was Saturday, McIlroy could have looked back a day earlier, to a front-side 40 that forced him to scramble just to make the cut. He did that, and recovered enough to summon a brief charge in the third round, but he still looked utterly dejected after the round. McIlroy attended to all his media obligations, but he did so with all the joy of a guy cleaning his gutters.
Or in his case, who likely has to wait another year to complete the career Grand Slam.
"It looks like I'm going to need something basically around 61, 62 to have a real chance," said McIlroy, who was nine shots behind Spieth when he finished his third round. "I'm not sure that's going to happen, but we'll see."