CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (Reuters) - World number eight Rory McIlroy was an angry golfer after his British Open title charge stalled on Carnoustie’s devilishly difficult closing holes on Saturday.
The crowd-pleasing Northern Irishman said he was distracted by a photographer when he bogeyed the short 16th.
He then failed to reach the green in two at the par-four last and another dropped stroke there meant he had to settle for a 70 and a five-under total of 208.
“I’m a little bit angry right now with that finish but I just have to regroup and start again tomorrow,” McIlroy told reporters after ending up four shots off the lead shared by American trio Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.
“The one on 16, I probably just didn’t give myself enough time to regroup after a photographer was in a world of his own.
He was taking a photo of the crowd instead of paying attention to the golf.
“Then I felt like I made a good putt on 18 for bogey in the end. I putted well. I holed out when I needed to. If I can just make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow it will be interesting.”
Par figures were almost at a premium for McIlroy as he littered his round with four bogeys and five birdies.
It is four years since the 29-year-old last won a major — at the 2014 British Open at Hoylake — but he believes his extra know-how could count in his favour when the winds are expected to gust up to 28mph on Sunday.
“I’ve got a bit of experience at this, maybe more so than some of the other guys on the leaderboard,” said McIlroy. “I just need to get off to a fast start tomorrow.
“I’m disappointed after the way I finished but I’m still in the tournament. The good thing is there’s not many players in between me and the lead. It’s not that bunched,” added the four-times major champion.
Editing by Neville Dalton