Not Hap­pen­ing

The Economic Times - - Sports - Jim Litke

A year ago, the Masters was sup­posed to be­long to Rory McIl­roy. Then Jor­dan Spi­eth cut in line.

This year, the Texan didn't bother say­ing ``ex­cuse me.'' He sim­ply shoved McIl­roy out of his way.

The two went off as the fi­nal pair on a blus­tery Satur­day af­ter­noon sep­a­rated by a sin­gle shot and came back five apart, They were play­ing to­gether for the first time in a fi­nal group at a ma­jor. It would have ended even worse for the North­ern Ir­ish­man had Spi­eth not tripped him­self up at the end, mak­ing bo­gey-dou­ble bo­gey on the last two holes.

``To be hon­est with you, I would be feel­ing a lot worse about my­self if I hadn't have just seen what Jor­dan did,'' McIl­roy said af­ter sign­ing for a 5-over 77. ``I sort of take a bit of heart from that, that I'm still in this golf tour­na­ment.''

McIl­roy said he felt like he was swim­ming up­stream for much of the round.

``I was al­ways try­ing to get some­thing go­ing and I just couldn't,'' he said. ``I felt like I righted the ship the last seven holes, I made seven pars com­ing in and had a lot of chances com­ing in, but I didn't take any op­por­tu­ni­ties.''

The strange thing is how well this course fits McIl­roy's strengths - the boom­ing drives and high ap­proach shots. But there's some­thing about it that spooks him, too. He's been here seven times be­fore and has yet to fig­ure out how get past holes 10-12.

McIl­roy­is­nowa­mind-numb­ing26-over­par on those three holes and 25-un­der for the rest. Who can for­get him stand­ing on the lawn in front of But­ler Cabin on the fi­nal day in 2011, af­ter smash­ing his tee shot off a tree, at the be­gin­ning of a triple-bo­gey ad­ven­ture that would drop him from first place to sev­enth?

So it was again in Round 3; a hooked drive off the 10th tee left McIl­roy in the pine straw and even­tu­ally pro­duced a bo­gey 5. Another hooked drive off No. 11 - more trees, worse re­sult - turned into a dou­ble. Then came the string of pars he sounded sat­is­fied with, even though they would have cost him a shot at con­tend­ing Sun­day had Spi­eth not had his own prob­lems on the last two holes. Spi­eth ac­knowl­edged ``it will be tough per­son­ally'' to get past the mem­ory of that mini-col­lapse. ``I'm not go­ing to dodge the ques­tion by any means,'' he said. ``It's not go­ing to be fun tonight for a lit­tle while, and hope­fully I just sleep it off and it's fine to­mor­row. I imag­ine that will be the case.''

As for play­ing along­side McIl­roy, that was a ques­tion he was only too will­ing to dodge.

``I love play­ing with Rory,'' he be­gan, then added, ``there wasn't much con­ver­sa­tion. He just couldn't get any­thing go­ing to­day, couldn't get any of the putts to go. So it was kind of just a blah round at that. ``But again, it's al­ways nice walk­ing 18 holes with him.''

RORY MCIL­ROY

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