PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Considering he never has truly contended at the Players Championship, Rory McIlroy was not going to complain about a 1-under-par 71 on Friday that left him just four shots out of the lead.
But there is no question the TPC Sawgrass course continues to frustrate him.
"I was OK. I mean, I was pretty bored out there,'' said McIlroy, who is tied for 13th and four strokes back of leaders Kevin Na and Jerry Kelly. "I'm not sure how you guys felt about watching it. Just try and hit fairways, hit greens, pick off my birdies when I could.''
McIlroy would prefer to play more aggressively, but he said prior to the tournament that he learned to scale things back after missing the cut in his first three attempts here.
Slowly, he has started to gain momentum at the home of the Players. He finished tied for eighth two years ago and tied for sixth last year, both after weekend rallies. The previous year, he shot 69 and 66 to finish the tournament.
"I'd take those two scores that I shot over the weekend last year again and see where I stand at the end of it,'' McIlroy said.
Ranked No. 1 in the world and coming off a victory Sunday at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play, McIlroy opened the tournament with a 69, then played the front nine Friday in even par. He birdied the 11th and 12th holes but found the water on his second shot on the par-5 16th, which led to a bogey.
"I felt like I was parring the place to death out there for the most part and picking up my birdies when I could,'' he said. "I'm only four back going into the weekend, so a lot can happen, and I feel like I'm in a decent position.''