- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

DORAL, Fla. (AP) - On the easiest day of the Cadillac Championship, Rory McIlroy moved the wrong way.

And in a flash, his hopes at Doral were just about gone.

McIlroy had two double bogeys in a three-hole stretch to serve as the lowlight of his round of 3-over 75 on Saturday, when he wound up in a tie for 19th place and seven shots behind leader Patrick Reed.

A great recovery and chip-in birdie at the par-4 18th salvaged at least the ending, but McIlroy knew the third round was an opportunity lost.

“Couldn’t hole a putt for birdie, so may as well chip one in,” McIlroy said. “It was a tough day. Hit two balls in the water on 8, didn’t play the par 5s well at all, played those in 4 over, so when you do that right here you’re sort of putting yourself behind the 8-ball a little bit.”

McIlroy was even for his day when he got to the par-5 eighth, then wound up making double there, and double again at the par-5 10th. He steadied himself with six straight pars after that, then had the chip-in that at least left him smiling.

He shot 65 in the final round at Doral - albeit a different-looking Doral - last year, and said he’d need an effort like that Sunday to have any chance to win. And the chip-in, he said, could be a springboard.

“For sure, yeah,” McIlroy said. “It gives you momentum going into tomorrow, definitely. I’d rather stand on the first tee tomorrow 3 over than 4 over.”

McIlroy said the long day on Friday, when the rain-delayed first round had to be finished and then the second round played in a ripping wind, left him so tired that he was asleep by 10 p.m.

He wound up shooting 74 in the second round, a very good score under those conditions. Somehow on Saturday, he was worse on a day where scores were for the taking at Doral.

“It was a day to just sort of shoot something,” McIlroy said.

After Sunday, he’ll get plenty of time to rest. McIlroy plans to take three weeks off, play Houston and then go to Augusta National for the Masters.


GREEN, NOT BLUE: In the span of 11 holes, Phil Mickelson got himself right back into the Cadillac Championship. He didn’t seem that impressed.

After all, his thinking is less about the Blue Monster and more on another green jacket.

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