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Page last updated at 22:34 GMT, Saturday, 11 April 2009 23:34 UK

McIlroy shrugs off bunker issue

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McIlroy satisfied with even par

Rory McIlroy put Friday's bunker controversy behind him to pick up a shot in round three and climb to level par overall at the Masters at Augusta.

The Northern Irish teenager escaped disqualification after kicking the sand on the 18th during the second round.

He hit back on Saturday to card a bogey and two birdies before parring the final 10 holes to end with a 71.

"I thought I played pretty well. It was a tricky day with the pins in tough positions," McIlroy said.

Having narrowly survived the halfway cut after the second round McIlroy began Saturday's third round 10 adrift of leaders Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry.

It was a steady performance from the 19-year-old from Holywood, who is making his debut at Augusta this week.

After a bogey on the par-four 7th and birdies on holes 2 and 8, he added: "I got up and down when I needed to and having just one bogey was good."

McIlroy's debut almost ended prematurely on Friday following the sand-kicking incident on the last hole.

606: DEBATE

He had stormed to sixth place with three holes to play but then dropped five shots in the last three holes to finish down in 42nd spot.

McIlroy was later called back to the Augusta National by officials to explain the incident in the bunker on the final hole.

If he was ruled to have kicked sand after failing to get out first time he faced the embarrassment of disqualification, but it was decided there had been no violation.

"I was definitely surprised by the fuss," said McIlroy after his third round. "After my round I didn't even think about what I did until Fred Ridley (chairman of the tournament committee) rang me to tell me what had happened and what he had seen.

"That was 6.30pm [local time] and then he called again and said, 'Do you want to have a look?'.

"I said, 'No - I'm confident I've done nothing wrong'. Then at 8.30pm he said it was in my best interest to come.

Rory McIlroy

Northern Ireland golfer Rory McIlroy explains his actions in the Masters.

"It's a natural instinct for me to smooth out bunker shots. I didn't kick it. I slept OK and it's in the past now.

"The reason it took so long was that I had left the property and I declined first time. I didn't think I was going to be disqualified - it wasn't a tantrum."

Four hours after the completion of his round a statement revealed he would remain in the tournament.

Fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell partnered Tiger Woods on Saturday and carded his second successive round of 73 to end the day on one under overall.

After a round that included four bogeys and three birdies, he said: "I'm disappointed. I hung in there with some putts but I knew I needed a 68 to get back in there.

"It's always intimidating playing with Tiger but I had to make sure I paid attention to my game.

"It was an education. It's always great to learn from these guys. I'm a good score away from a good week here."



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see also
Masters photos
11 Apr 09 |  Golf


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