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  • Valero Texas Open, Round Three

McIlroy still in touch despite errors

ESPN staff
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Rory McIlroy three-putted twice in two holes at the start of his back nine © Getty Images
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Valero Texas Open Leaderboard

Rory McIlroy was made to rue a mid-round slump after finishing with a third round of 71 to keep in touch at the Valero Texas Open, moving six-under-par overall and four shots off leader Billy Horschel.

Consecutive three-putts on the tenth and the 11th at TPC San Antonio spoiled an otherwise promising round for the Northern Irishman.

The world No. 2 enjoyed a positive start, carding a birdie on the first hole with a five-foot putt before quickly moving two-under for the day following a superb tee shot off the par-three third.

McIlroy then found the rough at the right side of the green with his second shot on the fourth and was unable to save par, dropping back to one-under before parring the remainder of the front nine.

However, it was the start of the back nine that hampered the 23-year-old as he carded successive bogeys at the tenth and 11th following three-putts on each green.

McIlroy gained a shot back at the 12th before cancelling out the dropped shots with another birdie at the par-five 14th, chipping within three feet before sinking his putt.

The two-time major champion finished solidly, making par on his last four holes to go into the clubhouse at six-under-par and still believes he can challenge for the title ahead of his final round on Sunday.

"I'm still in a decent position going into the last day and hopefully I can make a run of it," McIlroy said. "I felt like I fought back well after I started the back nine with those three-putts. But I had a couple of chances coming in which I didn't take advantage of."

Ian Poulter dropped down the leaderboard after suffering an inconsistent day, ending any slim chances of a third round charge. The Englishman started at the tenth, but suffered an early bogey at the 11th before carding a double-bogey six on the 17th.

Poulter parred the first four holes of his back nine, and then sunk a 13-foot putt for eagle at the fifth following a huge 330-yard drive straight onto the green. However, consecutive bogeys at the sixth and seventh meant the advantage was lost. Despite another birdie on the eighth, Poulter carded a 74 to drop to three-over-par.

Elsewhere, Horschel continued his lead over the field, carding a third round of 70 to move to ten-under par and lead by two shots.

American duo Charley Hoffman and Jim Furyk both moved within contention, carding a 70 and 69 respectively to move to eight-under-par while Ryan Palmer and Bob Estes finished six-under-par alongside McIlroy.

Padraig Harrington enjoyed a solid third round, making four birdies and two bogeys to card a 70 and move to five-under-par overall along with Scotland's Martin Laird.

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