'Decent effort' - Rory McIlroy reacts to latest Masters performance that leaves him out of contention at Augusta

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Holywood ace shot second under-par score of the week - but it's not enough to impact Augusta leaderboard

Rory McIlroy said his 71 on day three of the Masters was a ‘decent effort’ as he posted his second below-par card of the week at Augusta National.

It wasn’t the low 60s score many had hoped the Holywood ace would produce to catapult him up the leaderboard and at least have the leaders nervously looking over their shoulders going into Sunday’s final round.

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But it was enough to keep McIlroy satisfied as he reluctantly accepted that this just wasn’t his week. 

A fifth major win, and, more importantly, a maiden green jacket, will have to wait, after a one-under-par Saturday score left him three-over for the tournament. The 34-year-old had chances to shoot lower and will no doubt have been frustrated with his performance with the putter.

However, taking his medicine, he remained pleased to post a sub-par round after a miserable weather-affected Friday score of 77 had left him anxious about the cut.

McIlroy said: ‘Obviously conditions were a little easier than Friday. Still tricky, though. Greens are firm. Some of the hole locations are really tough, especially some of the downwind holes with the pins at the front.

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‘It’s hard to get the ball close, and then you sort of just have to take your chances from 20, 25 feet. But I definitely hit the ball better today, gave myself a lot of looks. Missed a few, but shooting something under par was a decent effort.’

The Ulsterman headed straight to the range on Friday night to correct the concerns he had with his swing in the final holes of Friday’s late-night finish. That paid off, with McIlroy finding 11 of 14 fairways that were in play. However, he downplayed his track record over the par fives this week, with just three bridies recorded on these key holes over his three rounds.

‘I just needed to get some rhythm,’ said McIlrory on his visit to the range. ‘It was so start/stop yesterday, and I didn't have any fluid in my golf swing because of that. I just wanted to go and try and find some rhythm last night.

‘I only hit 10, 15 minutes, but I definitely felt better. As the wind is coming down you start getting out of sync. It was better to make some normal golf swings and hit some normal shots. I definitely hit it a bit better today.’

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He added: ‘The par fives have been playing difficult and into the wind. It's been hard to go for the greens in two because of the conditions. It's probably not quite what I would have wanted, but it's probably not too far off what everyone else is playing them in because they have been sort of difficult.’

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