Matt Dunham
moving day

McIlroy makes woeful start to third round at Royal Troon

The world number four has been struggling on the greens.

RORY McILROY’S HOPES of making a charge up the leaderboard in the third round of the British Open were undermined by a nightmare start at Royal Troon today.

The Northern Irishman sat at two-under-par at the halfway stage, eight shots adrift of leader Phil Mickelson.

Playing with South Korea’s KT Kim, the 2014 Open champion bogeyed the par-four first after finding the rough to the right with his tee shot.

After a par at the second, McIlroy then contrived to drop another shot at the par-four third after three-putting.

That saw him slip back to level par as the rain started to come down for the first time today.

He has since picked up two more birdies, on the fourth and the sixth, but they bookended another dropped shot at the fifth to see him make the turn in one-over-par 37, for a one-under-par total.

Earlier, Jordan Spieth’s Open struggles continued in the third round, but the American was quick to stress people might be expecting too much of him.

The 22-year-old narrowly made the cut after an error-strewn 75 on Friday, during which he hit just 43% of fairways in wet and windy conditions.

Things started well on Saturday as the two-time major winner was four-under for the round through seven holes.

The troublesome back nine struck again, though, as the American signed for a one-over-par 72 that left him five-over for the tournament and it was a mildly aggrieved Spieth who addressed the media after to discuss the general state of his game.

“For me I set the expectations high for myself, but I feel like I’ve been getting a little more frustrated off the golf course than normal,” said Spieth, who won the Masters and US Open in 2015.

“I think it’s been a solid year and I think had last year not happened I’d be having a lot of positive questions.

“Instead most of the questions I get are comparing to last year and, therefore, negative because it’s not to the same standard.

“So I think that’s a bit unfair to me, but don’t feel sorry for me. I’ll still be OK. But I would appreciate if people would look at the positives over comparing to maybe hopefully what would happen to me a few times in my career a year like last year.

“Or I would say a few times it’s happened less than a dozen times to anybody in golf ever in a year. So it seems a bit unfair at 22 to be expecting something like that all the time.”

Despite the wind continuing to play a part at the weekend, several players managed to make gains after going out early; Brandt Snedeker and Haydn Porteous shootoing 68.

Elsewhere, Pádraig Harrington is two-over-par through 12 holes and is two-over for the tournament, Darren Clarke carded a two-over 73 and is now three-over for the tournament and Graeme McDowell is two shots further back on five-over after a 72 today.

- With reporting by AFP.

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