The world No 4 added five under par 66 to a second round 67 to share sixth place but also a tie for early clubhouse leader with Louis Oosthuizen on nine under in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
With just one round to play at TPC Boston and confidence with the putter growing, he believes he can challenge the leaders today and move up the standings and inside the Top 30 heading to the third leg of play-offs in next week’s BMW Championship in Indiana.
“It’s nice,” McIlroy said of his improve putting. “I don’t feel as under pressure with my long game now to hit it inside three feet the whole time. I feel I can give myself chances from 10, 15, 20 feet and have a good chance of holing them.
“It was just that little bit of confidence from yesterday, carried into today. I made four birdies in a row on the front nine and holed out well on the back nine as well.”
With playing partner Harris English just 18 inches away in two at the 514 yard 18th, McIlroy’s 210 yard four-iron pitched three feet short, caught the edge of the hole and lipped out, finishing inside three feet for an eagle finish to a 26-putt round that also featured six birdies, one bogey and a double bogey six at the 12th.
“It was obviously a nice to finish with an eagle there and with the conditions as tricky as they are today, hopefully I will be in with a shout tomorrow,” McIlroy beamed.
McIlroy is rebuilding his putting technique with Englishman Phil Kenyon.
“It bodes well for the future,” he said. “It is only the second weekend of trying to change what I am doing. I am already showing some signs of really good stuff.”
Meanwhile Sweden’s Alex Noren believes he is playing the best golf of his career after defeating Scott Hend in a play-off at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland to win the Omega European Masters for the second time.
Noren birdied the first extra hole from 25 feet at Crans-sur-Sierre to claim his second European Tour title of the season and sixth of his career after he and overnight leader Hend had finished tied on 17 under par.
“It feels unbelievable,” said the 34-year-old Noren. “I worked quite hard this season and tried to really play more golf when I’ve been off and not do so much practice on the driving range. I feel steadier with my driver, which has never been my good side.”