DUBLIN, Ohio – As bounce-back rounds go, Saturday’s 69 for Rory McIlroy wasn’t anything to celebrate but after Friday’s 6-over card it was at least a reason to be optimistic.
Not that the former world No. 1 sounded flush with confidence after Round 3.
“Really happy with the finish and not quite in the mix or in contention,” said McIlroy, who struggled early with three bogeys through his first six holes but rallied with a closing-nine 32. “I'm pretty close. Another good score tomorrow, see how it goes.”
If that sound bite doesn’t have the ring of a champion, consider that he opened the week with a flawless 63 just days after winning the BMW PGA Championship, where he began the final round seven shots back. He is six shots out of the lead.
McIlroy was pleased with the improved outlook for his ailing left knee. The two-time major champion tweaked his knee during Thursday’s opening round and has spent the last three days undergoing intense therapy for a strained medial collateral ligament.
“The knee feels OK,” McIlroy said. “It's not 100 percent, but it's better than it was on Thursday. So it's a good positive sign.”