NORTON, Mass. – After struggling through a pair of roller-coaster rounds at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Rory McIlroy rode a hot putter Sunday at TPC Boston, carding a 7-under 64 to move up the leaderboard heading into the final round.
The Ulsterman countered a double bogey at the par-4 14th hole with nine birdies, including eight across his final 13 holes. Though it was a drastic improvement over the rounds of 70 and 71 he recorded earlier this week, McIlroy insists the changes to his game were more minor than the variance in result indicates.
“I played pretty similar to the way I did the first two days, I just scored better,” explained McIlroy, who needed just 22 putts Sunday after reaching 12 of 18 greens in regulation. “I took advantage of some good shots in close, holed a few more putts and birdied the holes that you need to birdie out there, the par 5s and the short par 4s.”
While notable names like Tiger Woods (72) and Phil Mickelson (71) failed to keep pace Sunday at TPC Boston, McIlroy was able to move up 38 spots on the leaderboard and will now start the final round in a tie for 29th after barely making it past the 36-hole cut. With the course even more receptive after overnight and morning rains, the two-time major champion knew at the outset that a low number would be in order.
“If you didn’t shoot 66 today, you were sort of moving backward,” noted McIlroy, whose 64 Sunday marked his lowest score this year on the PGA Tour. “It was so soft and so scoreable.”
At 8-under 205, McIlroy remains 11 shots behind leader Sergio Garcia after 54 holes. With each shot carrying FedEx Cup point implications, though, he realizes the weight that a round like Sunday’s effort can carry as he looks to play his way into the field at East Lake.
“I think we calculated these two tournaments, it was either two top 17s or one top four was what I needed to get into the Tour Championship,” noted McIlroy, who began the week 36th in the FedEx Cup standings. “Obviously it helps to get myself back into the middle of the pack here.”