The Masters: Rory McIlroy feels he is too far behind to challenge for the Green Jacket

Rory McIlroy admitted he had “zero thoughts” about winning the Masters on Sunday despite a third-round 67 that still left him with ground to make up on Dustin Johnson.

McIlroy continued his spirited recovery from his opening 75 and was five under for his third round with six to play, but another big mistake at the 13th – a hole he has now played in two-over par this week – derailed his challenge.

The 31-year-old kept himself within striking distance of Johnson with three birdies in a row from the eighth, and he picked up a bonus at the 12th when he came up short with his tee shot only to hole his bunker escape for a two.

But he again failed to take advantage of the par-five 13th and a three-putt bogey from inside 10 feet was a huge blow for his hopes of ending his Masters hoodoo, and he then dumped his second to the 15th into the water.

McIlroy did manage to scramble a par with an excellent up-and-down, and he got back on the birdie trail with a nice tee-shot and a putt to match at the 16th, but he was unable to close the gap further as Johnson tightened his grip on the tournament.

“Being a realist here, I just need to go out and shoot a good one tomorrow and see where it puts me, but I have zero thoughts about winning this golf tournament right now,” said McIlroy, who remains frustrated by his poor form over the first 18 holes.

“I’m 11 under for the last two days, I think that sort of speaks for itself. The good golf was in there, I just didn’t allow myself to play that way on the first 18 holes. This course can do that. This course can make you a little bit careful and a little bit tentative at times.

“I try to view everything as a learning experience, but yeah, I’ll look back at that and rue some of the shots that I hit and some of the thought processes I had and just try to learn from it and be better the next time.

“I’ve always said I play my best golf when I’m trusting and freer, and I’ve been a lot freer over the last 36 holes. I’ll just try to play a good round of golf (on Sunday), try to do the same thing I’ve done the last couple of days, go out and try to hit every fairway, try to hit every green, try to make a birdie on every hole if you can.

“You’re just trying to shoot the best possible score. That’s the way to win golf tournaments is to just keep doing that day after day. That’s what I’m going to try to do.

“As I said, I think I’ve left myself too far back after the bad first day, but you know, I’ll go and give it a good effort tomorrow and see where that leaves me.”

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November 15, 2020, 3:00pm

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