It didn't take long on Saturday for Rory McIlroy's third round at The Northern Trust to go from good to absolutely terrible.
McIlroy, the defending FedEx Cup champion, triple-bogeyed not once, but twice in the front nine at TPC Boston on Saturday, moving him from 1-under for the round to 4-over. Any shot McIlroy had at making a run for the top of the leaderboard pretty much ended then and there.
The trouble began on the par-5 second hole 2: From the left rough, McIlroy tried to hit the green from 221 yards but instead narrowly avoided the water hazard. But his third shot — which lay inside the penalty area — bounced off a rock and back into the hazard.
McIlroy resumed play from the drop zone on the other side of the hazard — dropped at 110 yards — and proceeded to hit the center of the green, lag putt to within 5 feet of the hole and finally, mercifully, sink the putt for a triple bogey. Unfortunately for him, the trouble didn't end there: Four holes later on the par-4 sixth, McIlroy suffered another triple bogey to go 4-over through six holes.
Luckily for him, he made the weekend cut, so he will earn some FedEx Cup points regardless of his finish. Plus, he's currently No. 8 in the FedEx Cup standings, meaning he is assured a spot at the BMW Championship next week in the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
If he wants any real shot at defending his championship, however, he'll need to play better than he did on the front nine at The Northern Trust.