CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It was neither the start nor the round Rory McIlroy was hoping for.
The Wells Fargo defending champion found himself 2 over par through his first four holes on Saturday and later made a mess of the ninth hole when he clipped a tree with his approach shot on his way to a double bogey-6.
He needed a scrambling finish, featuring this 79-foot birdie make at the par-3 17th, to stay under par for the week.
“I feel like I came back well to play the last four holes in 2 under par to get into red figures for the tournament,” said McIlroy, who shot his second 73 of the week and is 1 under par. “I'm not sure how the leaders are going to fare coming in, it's really tricky out there.”
At times his frustration was evident, like when he three-putted the 11th hole from 21 feet. McIlroy conceded he’s had a hard time scoring this year in his quest for his first victory of 2016.
Still, the world No. 3 said he’s seeing signs of progress and feels like he’s getting closer to his best golf.
“It's been all year. I just haven't been playing as efficient as I could be,” said McIlroy, whose best finish on the PGA Tour this season is a tie for third at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. “I feel like everything is sort of there, it's just a matter of putting it all together, and for the most part this year I haven't been able to do that.”