Rory McIlroy is nothing if not consistent.
McIlroy shot a 5-under 67 for the third straight round at the Turkish Airlines Open, steady play that has him within a shot of co-leaders Victor Dubuisson and Jaco Van Zyl.
McIlroy has employed a self-described conservative gameplan this week at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal, and it led to two straight bogey-free rounds to start the event. But the streak ended at 38 holes, and after another bogey on No. 10, he stood at even par for the third round.
"I felt like today, it wasn't a good start for me. I didn't get off to the start I wanted to," McIlroy said. "I struggled to get any sort of energy going."
The Ulsterman turned things around quickly, playing the next four holes in 4 under, with an eagle on the par-5 13th. He continued to take advantage of the five par-5s on this week's layout, playing them in 5 under during the third round and 12 under for the week.
"That eagle on 13 was the spark that I needed to sort of get myself up the leaderboard," he said.
McIlroy's return to form following a July ankle injury continues, as he still has yet to flash the complete game he showed en route to wins earlier this year in Dubai, San Francisco and Charlotte. While low scores have been abundant this week, led by Van Zyl's opening-round 61, McIlroy has instead made his climb up the standings through consistent play and a relative lack of miscues.
Although he has yet to play to his potential this week in Antalya, McIlroy believes that a well-rounded performance isn't far off.
"I feel like if I play the same way and just execute a little bit better, there's definitely a lower score out there for me," he said. "The three 67s that I've shot this week feel like I've played very much within myself. So if I can get something going and get some momentum out there tomorrow, no reason I can't go lower than that."
In fact, with the top four players separated by only one shot, he estimates that a fourth straight 67 won't be enough to secure his first worldwide victory since May.
"I'm not sure that 20 (under) is going to be good enough. I'll be setting myself up with a target a little lower than 20, and we'll see where we go from there," he said. "There are so many birdie chances out there, someone could catch fire and get to 22, 23 tomorrow. Hopefully that's me."