Rory McIlroy expressed his frustration at not getting back into contention for a second US Open title on Saturday.
McIlroy carded a third round of 70 to remain four over par – eight shots off co-leaders Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Branden Grace and Duston Johnson.
The Holywood star had marked his par on the 18th with a mock celebration after finally holing a lengthy putt, the world number one missing numerous birdie chances after picking up shots on the second and seventh.
“I missed seven good chances on the back nine, or seven makeable putts, anyway,” said McIlroy, who dropped shots on the 11th and 15th. “It was just nice to see one drop at the last there. I feel like I turned a 65 into a 70 today.
“Whenever you start to miss a couple you start to get a little tentative. You start to doubt yourself. You start to doubt the greens a little bit. And then it just sort of snowballs from there. I holed a few nice ones early on, but once I missed a couple it got into my head and couldn’t really get out of it.”
Henrik Stenson had memorably likened the greens to putting on broccoli, but McIlroy joked: “I don’t think they’re as green as broccoli. I think they’re more like cauliflower.
“They are what they are, everyone has to putt on them. It’s all mental. Some guys embrace it more than others, and that’s really the way it is. It is disappointing that they’re not in a bit better shape. But the newer greens like seven and 13, they’re perfect.
“I played last Sunday and I felt like they (the USGA) brought it a little too much towards the brink then. And it’s always a struggle from then to sort of rein it back little bit. I would have liked to see them keep it a little greener for the practice rounds and then gradually as the tournament progresses get a little firmer.
“That might have kept the greens in a bit better shape, but you never know. I’ve never been here before, but I hear that the weather isn’t always like this. If there had been a little bit of moisture and had it been overcast the greens might not have gotten baked out and as bumpy as they are.”
McIlroy admitted he was frustrated to four-putt the 17th and drop another shot on the 18th in his second round, but was happy to have ground out a score after missing the cut in his previous two events.
“I’m pleased with how I’ve kept it going,” the 26-year-old said. “It’s a lot easier to do that than when you’re not hitting fairways and not hitting greens. I’m hitting great shots and great drives and giving myself chances the whole time.
“It’s just hard to stay patient whenever I’m not holing anything. I feel mentally I’ve accepted most things this week, which is good.”