Rory McIlroy struggled again on Saturday, his chance to win and overtake Tiger Woods for World No. 1 dwindling as Americans Stewart Cink and Bill Haas shared the PGA Houston Open lead.
Haas fired a 5-under par 67 while Cink, who has not won since defeating Tom Watson in a playoff at the 2009 British Open, shot a 68 to stand atop the leaderboard on 11-under 205, both nine strokes ahead of World No. 2 McIlroy.
Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record of 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, won his third event of the year last week at Bay Hill to pass McIlroy and take the top spot in the rankings for the fist time since 2010.
McIlroy, who has played only 11 competitive rounds this year, could reclaim the top spot with a victory this week but he only made the cut on the number and stumbled late on his way to a 71 on Saturday. The Northern Irish standout, a two-time major winner, birdied the par-4 second, the par-3 seventh and par-5 eighth. Another birdie at the 12th had him lurking within reach of the lead pack.
But McIlroy followed with bogeys at the par-5 13th and par-3 14th and closed with another bogey to finish in a share of 48th, showing no sign of making the astonishing climb it would take for a victory.
Even though he made little headway on the leaderboard, McIlroy was pleased with his round.
"I hit the ball really well," he said. "It's the best I've hit it on the golf course this week. So I take a lot of positives from it. "Obviously the finish wasn't what I wanted. Just some silly mistakes from rustiness, I guess. I think with a little more competitive play, I'll eradicate that."