A clumsy three-putt on the last might have cost Rory McIlroy at the BMW Championship as he fell five-shots adrift of Patrick Cantlay in Delaware.
The closing bogey saw McIlroy settle for a one-under 70 to move to seven-under while Shane Lowry drifted back outside the top-30 in the FedEx Cup and Seamus Power saw his hopes of a Tour Championship debut all but ended.
McIlroy’s frustrating day was capped when a fan pestered him with a remote-controlled golf ball, which did little to impress him. Clearly and rightly fuming with the interruption, McIlroy picked up the ball and launched it into the adjacent lake.
The four-time major champion had the last laugh though as he rolled in his third birdie of the day for a two on the par-3 13th to get back to level for the day.
That appeared to ignite a charge as birdies on 16 and 17 saw him move to within three of Cantlay.
However, the two-time FedEx Cup champion walked off the 18th with a bogey after reducing the hole to just 88 yards from the tee but then three-putted down the slope from 18-feet.
Lowry carded a level-par 71 and while he fell the wrong side of the top-30 he managed to keep his Tour Championship bid alive with three birdies on the back nine to remain where he finished after round one.
Bogeys on the fourth, sixth and ninth saw the Clara native turn in 38 before birdies on 12, 14 and 18 salvaged his day and at 34th in the FedEx Cup standings he still has a chance on Sunday.
Meanwhile a disastrous back nine of 42 severely dented Seamus Power’s hopes of a maiden Tour Championship appearance at East Lake as he shot a six-over 77 to slip to three-over and 44th in the FedEx Cup.
54-hole leader Cantlay enhanced his reputation as a playoff specialist with a six-under 65 to move into a one-shot lead at the summit.
The defending FedEx Cup champion is on course for back-to-back BMW Championships and has certainly been feeding off playing partner and close friend Xander Schauffele the first three days, who is alongside Scott Stallings on –11.
The highlight of Cantlay’s round was a hole out eagle from 107 with a wedge on the par-5 14th.
“Yeah, 107, I think, a big lob wedge. It was downwind and just got lucky and fed off the slope perfect, right in,” explained Cantlay who can become the first man to defend the FedEx Cup over his next five rounds of golf.
“You know, my head is not even there right now. I think the best way to handle this playoff system is to just focus on doing your best in the tournament that you’re in and not worry too much about the points. So that’s what I’m going to do.”
Also looking to spoil Cantlay’s party are Adam Scott, Scottie Scheffler (both -10), Collin Morikawa (-9), Joaquin Niemann and Corey Conners (both -8).