Tired McIlroy struggles in Hong Kong Open golf
03 Dec 2011 - 12:16:42
Rory McIlroy said he was struggling with mental and physical tiredness after he fell off the lead in the third round of the US$2.75 million UBS Hong Kong Open on Saturday.
McIlroy had kept pace with Alvaro Quiros over the first two days of the event, but the Spaniard fired a sparkling three-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead, while the Northern Irishman slipped three strokes behind.
"I just didn't have anything out there," said McIlroy, who sits at seven under for the event.
"Just mentally I wasn't at the races and struggled to really get anything going."
Picking up the pace behind Quiros instead were Sweden's Peter Hanson, who fired a five-under 65 for a three-round total of nine-under, and both South Korean Major winner Y.E Yang and Thailand's Pariya Junhasavasdikul, who shot 65 and 67 respectively and are poised at eight-under.
McIlroy revealed on Friday he had not fully recovered from a virus picked up while on holiday in the Maldives last month with girlfriend and world number one tennis player Caroline Wozniacki.
He still hit par but left the course far from happy.
"Going out on the golf course I noticed little things start agitating me and you hear cameras you don't usually hear," said the 22-year-old.
"It's just a sign that I'm a little tired. I need to go back and rest up and put everything in to tomorrow. But I'm only three behind so it's not like I'm out of it myself."
The long-hitting Quiros has told everyone who will listen this week that the tight Hong Kong Golf Club course doesn't suit his game.
"After tomorrow I'll tell you if I feel comfortable here or not," said the 28-year-old.
"Obviously my length is an advantage. This is one of my strengths. But it is difficult on this golf course as the greens are becoming firm."
Hanson, 34, was delighted with his 65 which was capped by a birdie on the last and said some extra work on his swing back home in Sweden before the event was beginning to pay off.
"I think for me now it's all about staying in the same mindset I have been for three days. I'm going to try to take it easy tomorrow and just play my game and work on the things I had been working on back home."
The surprise packet was Pariya who has missed the past four cuts on the Asian Tour and came into the Hong Kong event sitting a lowly 53rd on the Order of Merit.
The 27-year-old said he had started to feel the pressure after a double bogey on the par five second.
"Things were not going too well at that stage but then my caddie and I looked up on the leaderboard and saw they had spelt my name wrong," he said.
"I kind of laughed at it with my caddy and thought just go out there and have fun and then I'll find my comfort zone. And that's what happened."
There was some hope left for reigning champion Ian Poulter who has had no luck on the greens all tournament but still finds himself six strokes behind Quiros after hitting a three-under 67, to sit at four-under for the event.
"The reason the course has played tough is because the greens are very firm and they are very fast," said the Englishman.