McIlroy stumbles late in 3rd round at European Masters

McIlroy stumbles late in 3rd round at European Masters”

Rory McIlroy shot a 3-under 67 on his return to the European Tour on Thursday, leaving the new FedEx Cup victor four strokes behind Matthias Schwab and Mike Lorenzo-Vera after the first round of the European Masters.

At the impressive course in the Swiss Alps, Malaysian Gavin Green earned a one-shot lead on 11 under par after adding a 64 to his opening 65.

Tommy Fleetwood, the 2017 Race to Dubai victor, is also in the group at 10-under alongside McIlroy, Australia's Wade Ormsby, Austrian Matthias Schwab and Argentina's Andres Romero - whose round of 61 was the lowest of the week so far.

"I felt a little flat out there, a little exhausted, maybe it just all caught up with me", the Northern Irishman said after a one-under-par 69 that left him equal fifth. "I ve given myself a good chance to win this tournament, which I ve come close to winning before".

"Nine and 10 were important, I had a couple of up-and-downs there that kept me going a bit more, and I had a good finish".

McIlroy hit a poor fairway bunker shot over the green at the 17th hole and then, from another fairway bunker at the par-four 18th, found a greenside pond at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.

"I proved to myself that I can play out here", said the Swede.

Green said he was comfortable playing at 1,500m altitude due to his experience as a student in the United States. "Maybe it all sort of caught up with me".

After firing a nine-under-par 61 on Friday, Romero, now ranked 735th in the world, signed for a 66 after a run of three birdies and an eagle in four holes from the 13th.

"It would have been easy for me to take my foot off the gas after last week".

"I feel like we've read them well and not given anything away on the greens, which is a massive key to scoring".

"It s just nice to keep putting myself in positions and hopefully I ll start winning more".

"I don't know what happened there at the end", McIllroy stated.

"Other than that, I played really well yesterday and I played solid today, not as good - my irons and my long game wasn't as sharp - but still I didn't make too many mistakes and I'm happy with where I'm at".

Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Lorenzo Gagli and Kalle Samooja were also at 11 under, a shot clear of major champion Sergio Garcia, Renato Paratore, Matthias Schwab and Sebastian Soderberg.

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