Rory McIlroy sees slim Bay Hill title hopes sink in third round

19 Mar 2016 15:53

Rory McIlroy's faint hopes of getting into contention for a first win of 2016 came to an end on Saturday as he suffered more water torture in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

McIlroy had targeted back-to-back rounds of 66 over the weekend at Bay Hill to climb the leaderboard after beginning the third round 11 shots behind halfway leader Jason Day.

And after starting from the 10th due to an early two-tee start in anticipation of bad weather in Orlando, the world number two made a good start with birdies on the 11th and 16th to reach four under par.

However, McIlroy's approach to the 18th then landed in the rocks on the edge of a water hazard and led to a double-bogey six, which was soon followed by another on the third, where the four-time major winner found water off the tee and with his attempted recovery.

That left the 26-year-old, who found the water three times in an opening 75 before recovering with a 67 on Friday, 13 shots behind Day and course specialist Henrik Stenson, who has finished second, fifth and eighth in his last three starts at Bay Hill.

Stenson began the day two shots behind Day but moved level with the Australian after two-putting the par-five fourth for birdie and holing from six feet on the next for another, while Day had birdied the fourth after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker for par on the second.

England's Justin Rose, the remaining member of the final group, had copied Day's start to remain three off the lead, while American Kevin Chappell was making the biggest move of the day, with four birdies in the first six holes taking him to within a shot of the lead on 12 under.