Rory McIlroy admits he is “frustrated” with his current form after another disappointing display in the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
The world number one moved into contention at Bay Hill with a second-round 66 but was unable to build on his progress as he carded a 71 on Saturday.
McIlroy looked on course to continue climbing the leaderboard with back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13 but a series of uncharacteristic errors led to three successive bogeys, leaving him seven shots adrift of leader Henrik Stenson.
His 71 leaves McIlroy tied for 12th on nine-under for the tournament and dampens any hopes of a first PGA Tour victory of the season before the Masters gets underway on April 9.
“I’m frustrated. I birdied 12 and 13 and got right into the thick of things and then to give three shots back in quick succession was not really the plan,” McIlroy told Sky Sports.
“I’m disappointed with the way I finished but I played well for the most part. I need to try to get off to a good start tomorrow, shoot a good score and see where that leaves me.
“There’s a lot of quality players above me. I would need to get off to a very fast start. 30 or 31 on the front nine it’s possible; just try to start better and go from there.”
McIlroy is now 26.00 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational and is priced at 5.76 to win the Masters at Augusta.