McIlroy cruised to 6-under Thursday at Wilmington Country Club and tried to hit a soft, choppy 5-iron on the watery 15th hole

but instead double-stepped and ripped his shot left into the pond. After wedged onto the green, he three-putted from 25 feet for triple bogey.

His momentum stalled, with McIlroy paring the final three holes to sit four shots off the lead.

So what would hold up tonight, he was asked: The stellar 17 holes he played or the one swing he couldn't quite execute?

"Probably the first one," he said. "I played a lot better today than last week, so I have to take the positives. I still played decent golf; 3 out there this afternoon was pretty good.

So I've got to reset tonight, forget that swing at 15 and go again tomorrow."

Indeed, McIlroy's game was a marked improvement from last week at the FedEx St. Jude Championship missed just his second cut in the past year.

Instead of joining the rest of his family at a cabin in upstate New York where he wouldn't be able to play and practice,