Rory McIlroy made double bogeys on successive holes in the third round of the $8 million DP World Tour Championship, slipping four strokes behind joint-leaders Henrik Stenson and Rafael Cabrera-Bello.
World number one McIlroy began two shots adrift of Sweden’s Stenson, but the Northern Irishman sunk birdies on holes 5-7 and another at 10 to pull level. Then came 20 minutes of golf that will haunt McIlroy.
On the par-four 12, the 25-year-old found the bunker, recovered to within 30 feet of the pin, but rolled a putt six feet long and then missed again going back the other way.
At the par-three 13, McIlroy’s tee-shot found the gallery and twice he underplayed chips before double-putting. He sunk birdies on 14 and 18 — the latter after fluffing an eagle chance — for 70 and a 10-under 206.
“I’ll try to get off to a fast start, put some pressure on,” McIlroy told reporters. “I can’t afford to stay patient tomorrow. I need to get some birdies from the off.”
Defending champion Stenson, 38, sunk four birdies to card 68 and a 14-under 202. He has not dropped a shot for 32 holes.
Spain’s Cabrera-Bello (65) is level with Stenson on 202, Justin Rose (68) is on 205 and four players are a stroke further back – McIlroy, Victor Dubuisson (67), Tyrrell Hatton (68), Thorbjorn Olesen (69).