McIlroy wasn't ready to give up hope on a green jacket to complete the career Grand Slam, though he left Augusta National on Saturday with a 1-under 71 that left him wondering how many opportunities he threw away as so many other players were cashing in.
The 27-year-old Northern Irishman will start the final round on Sunday six strokes behind the leaders, his European Ryder Cup team mates Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia.
"I need to play the round of my life tomorrow", McIlroy said.
"But I holed some good ones".
"I feel like I play as aggressive as anyone around here", he said.
"It wasn't quite as adventurous as previous Masters have been for me", McIlroy said. "But I'm still within five of the lead going into the weekend with better conditions on the way".
Nothing irritated him more than the fifth hole.
"I had a great chance on 11 and 14 and where I hit my drive on 13 and 15, I should be making birdie there". He was three shots behind, a name on the white leaderboards that was getting everyone's attention.
After the criticism he received, Rory McIlroy said he would "think twice" before accepting an invitation to play golf with President Trump a second time. "The one place you don't want to miss it on that green is short, which I did". He also had a tap-in birdie at No. 15, where he put one in the water Thursday and three-putted for a nine. He missed that for a three-putt bogey. "It's heightened even more, just because you can hear what's going on around you", McIlroy said about the roars and groans of Augusta's massive galleries.
There was better news for Brandt Snedeker as he shot 69 to move to two over par for the tournament.
McIlroy stumbled further with a double-bogey at the seventh, before repairing the damage with birdies at the eighth and 12th holes. "I didn't get too high with some really low nine-hole scores, but I didn't shoot any nine-hole scores that were in the 40s".
"Then there are times to attack, and I sort of got the balance right today, but I didn't take my opportunities when I could have".
His job is to keep score for the Masters participant, who is either last or tied for last place after 36 holes, and provide company for him. It was an hour and fifty five I finished and I shot 72. "I was just in between clubs on both of those holes".