NORTON, Mass. — Rory McIlroy shot a five-under 66 in Sunday’s third round of the Dell Technologies Championship. It was few strokes under the field average for the day at TPC Boston, a good-but-not-great score given leader Abraham Ancer’s 65 and Bryson DeChambeau’s 63. Still, it was enough to move McIlroy into contention at the Dell Technologies Championship, a tournament he has won twice before. Another victory in the event would give him two wins in an otherwise mostly forgettable 2018 season.
Afterward, however, the 29-year-old Northern Irishman declined to speak to the media. Not that he really needed to say anything. His putter toss after missing a seven-footer for birdie on the par-5 18th and a someone-just-kicked-my-dog expression on his way to sign his scorecard did all the talking necessary. It spoke for the level of frustration the Northern Irishman had on a day where he finished four strokes off the lead.
Despite seven birdies, McIlroy’s putter—something that has been an annoyingly familiar topic of conversation for the four-time major champion—let him down yet again. Only twice on Sunday did he make a putt outside of four feet, and he made just 61 feet, 8 inches of putts for the round. Over the first three days, he has taken 87 total putts, which included 32 in the opening round.
Poor putting hasn’t been the only frustration of late for McIlroy, though. He skipped last week’s FedEx Cup Playoffs opener, the Northern Trust, to spend time instead working on his game. He flew in his longtime coach, Michael Bannon, for 10 days of work on his swing in South Florida.
“It’s been a pretty long season,” McIlroy said earlier in the week during a pre-tournament press conference. “I played well for three rounds at Firestone. I didn’t play well when I needed to the fourth round when I was in the final group. And then I didn’t play very well at [the PGA Championship], and that was all to do with swing mechanics and technique.
“I just needed to have a couple of weeks off and sort of assess where I was at and what I needed to do to improve and go forward.”
And after a frustrating day with the putter, he apparently could use another day off from talking about it.