Rory McIlroy struggled again on Saturday, his chance to win and overtake Tiger Woods for the world No. 1 ranking dwindling as Americans Stewart Cink and Bill Haas shared the PGA Houston Open lead.
Haas fired a five-under 67, while Cink, who has not won since defeating Tom Watson in a playoff at The Open in 2009, 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 top spot with a victory, but he only just 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-four second, the par-three seventh and the par-five eighth.
Another birdie at the 12th had him lurking within reach of the lead pack, but McIlroy followed with bogeys at the par-five 13th and par-three 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 victory.
Haas did make a move, shrugging off a bogey at the third with a run of three birdies in a row ending at the eighth, followed by a birdie-birdie start to the back nine.
After a bogey at 13, Haas responded with birdies at the par-three 14th and 16th holes.
Cink had back-to-back birdies at the seventh and eighth, and again at the 11th and 12th holes. He answered his lone stumble of the round, a bogey at the 14th, with a birdie at the 15th.
Americans Ben Crane, D.A. Points, Steve Wheatcroft and Jason Kokrak shared third on 206. A pack of nine on 207 included England’s Lee Westwood, South African Louis Oosthuizen, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and Argentina’s Angel Cabrera.