Rory McIlroy needs 'round of his life' to complete grand slam

AUGUSTA, Georgia, April 8 (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy said on Saturday he needs to play the round of his life to complete the career grand slam but the world number two does not plan to take too many risks on a notoriously demanding Augusta National layout.

The 27-year-old Northern Irishman will start the final round on Sunday six strokes behind the leaders, his European Ryder Cup team mates Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia.

McIlroy looked as though a sizzling score might be in the cards when he made a hot start to his third round, but he ultimately ended the day further back than where he started after a one-under-par 71 that he thought could have been a 67 if not for some wasted opportunities.

RELATED: Iconic moments in the history of the Masters Tournament

13 PHOTOS
Iconic moments in the history of the Masters Tournament
See Gallery
Iconic moments in the history of the Masters Tournament
AUGUSTA, UNITED STATES: Golfer Tiger Woods (R) of the US celebrates with his caddie Steve Williams after making the winning putt on the 18th green 10 April 2005 during the final round of the 2005 Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Woods beat fellow American Chris DiMarco in a one-hole play-off to take his fourth Masters title. AFP PHOTO/Jeff HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
APR 1986: JACK NICKLAUS OF THE UNITED STATES HOLES A BIRDIE PUTT AT THE 17TH HOLE OF THE 1986 US MASTERS IN AUGUSTA, GEORGIA. NICKLAUS GOES ON TO BECOME THE OLDEST WINNER OF THE TOURNAMENT.
AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 14: Adam Scott of Australia reacts alongside caddie Steve Williams after Scott makes a birdie putt on the second sudden death playoff hole to defeat Angel Cabrera of Argentina (far right) to win the 2013 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2013 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, : Ben Crenshaw and his caddie Carl Jackson(L) react to his winning the 1995 Masters Tournament on the eighteenth hole 09 April at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Crenshaw, the 1984 Champion, won with a score of fourteen under-par. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson of the United States leaps on the 18th green after his birdie captured his win in the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia April 11, 2004.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque JLS
AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 08: Bubba Watson of the United States plays at a shot from the rough on second sudden death playoff hole on the 10th during the final round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
14 Apr 1996: Greg Norman of Australia sinks to his knees in frustration after narrowly missing the hole with his chip shot on the 15th during the final round of the 1996 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Munday/Allsport
13 Apr 1997: Tiger Woods of the USA celebrates after sinking a 4 feet putt to win the US Masters at Augusta, Georgia. Woods won the tournament with a record low score of 18 under par. \ Mandatory Credit: Stephen Munday /Allsport
12 Apr 1987: Larry Mize of the USA celebrates chipping in on the second play-off hole number 11 to win the masters during the US Masters 1987 held at the Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia. \ Mandatory Credit: David Cannon /Allsport
Honorary starters Arnold Palmer (L) of the US, Gary Player (R) of South Africa and Jack Nicklaus of the US begin Round 1 of the 79th Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2015, in Augusta, Georgia. AFP PHOTO/TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 09: Gary Player of South Africa holes the winning putt on the 18th green during the 42nd Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 1978 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)
APR 1992: FRED COUPLES DURING THE 1992 MASTERS AT AUGUSTA, GEORGIA. Mandatory Credit: David Cannon/ALLSPORT
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

However, he still thinks he can clinch the Green Jacket and become the sixth man to complete the career modern grand slam.

"I can, yeah, but I need to play the round of my life tomorrow," said McIlroy. "But again you can't start going for shots that aren't there. You still need to play smart when you have to."

The four-times major champion was itching to start the third round given the piece of bad luck he endured on Friday when his approach to the 18th slammed into the pin and rebounded 20 yards from the hole leading to a bogey.

And he wasted no time making his move on Saturday, using his prodigious power at the par-five second, where he smashed a fairway-metal second shot from 280 yards to set up a two-putt tap-in birdie.

SEE ALSO: Driving pro golfers around the Masters doesn't pay well, but it comes with some cool perks

He also birdied the par-four third after almost driving the green, but his charge started to peter out when he three-putted from long range for bogey at the par-four fifth after misclubbing with his approach shot.

"It's as simple as hitting the wrong club on the fifth hole," McIlroy, who switched to a nine-iron from an eight-iron, said when asked about his inability to build on his hot start.

"The margins are so fine around this golf course. And I was just on the wrong side of it sometimes today."

McIlroy stumbled further with a double-bogey at the seventh, before repairing the damage with birdies at the eighth and 12th holes.

McIlroy, who took a four-shot lead into the final round of the 2011 Masters before unraveling with a closing 80, is hoping his experience will help him to make up ground.

"Even if you're not playing that well, if your head is in the right place you'll always have a chance ... especially around this place. It's heightened even more, just because you can hear what's going on around you," McIlroy said about the roars and groans of Augusta's massive galleries.

"So you really have to focus on yourself and not worry too much about what everyone else is doing."

RELATED: Each Masters winner throughout history

81 PHOTOS
Each Masters winner throughout history
See Gallery
Each Masters winner throughout history

1934: Horton Smith, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1935: Gene Sarazen, United States

(Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

1936: Horton Smith (2), United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1937: Byron Nelson, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1938: Henry Picard, United States

(Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

1939: Ralph Guldahl, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1940: Jimmy Demaret, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1941: Craig Wood, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1942: Byron Nelson (2), United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1946: Herman Keiser, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1947: Jimmy Demaret (2), United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1948: Claude Harmon, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1949: Sam Snead, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1950: Jimmy Demaret (3), United States

(Photo via Hulton Archive via Getty Images)

1951: Ben Hogan, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1952: Sam Snead (2), United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1953: Ben Hogan (2), United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1954: Sam Snead (3), United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1955: Cary Middlecoff, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1956: Jack Burke, Jr., United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1957: Doug Ford, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1958: Arnold Palmer, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1959: Art Wall, Jr., United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1960: Arnold Palmer (2), United States

(Photo by: Diamond Images/Getty Images)

1961: Gary Player, South Africa

(Photo via Getty Images)

1962: Arnold Palmer (3), United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1963: Jack Nicklaus, United States

(Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

1964: Arnold Palmer (4), United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1965: Jack Nicklaus (2), United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1966: Jack Nicklaus (3), United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1967: Gay Brewer, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1968: Bob Goalby, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1969: George Archer, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1970: Billy Casper, United States

(Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

1971: Charles Coody, United States

(Photo via S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport via PA)

1972: Jack Nicklaus, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1973: Tommy Aaron, United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1974: Gary Player (2), South Africa

(Photo by Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

1975: Jack Nicklaus (5), United States

(Photo via Getty Images)

1976: Raymond Floyd, United States

(Photo by Tony Roberts/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

1977: Tom Watson, United States

(Photo by Tony Roberts/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

1978: Gary Player (3), South Africa

(Photo by Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

1979: Fuzzy Zoeller, United States

(Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)

1980: Steve Ballesteros, Spain

(Photo by Steve Powell/Getty Images)

1981: Tom Watson (2), United States

(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

1982: Craig Stadler, United States

(Photo by Brian Morgan/Getty Images)

1983: Steve Ballesteros (2), Spain

(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

1984: Ben Crenshaw, United States

(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

1985: Bernhard Langer, Germany

(Photo by Brian Morgan/Getty Images)

1986: Jack Nicklaus, United States

(Photo by David Cannon/Allsport via Getty Images)

1987: Larry Mize, United States

(Photo by David Cannon /Allsport via Getty Images)

1988: Sandy Lyle, Scotland

(Photo by Getty Images)

1989: Nick Faldo, England

(Photo credit JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

1990: Nick Faldo (2), England

(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

1991: Ian Woosnam, Wales

(Photo credit PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

1992: Fred Couples, UNited States

(Photo by Gary Newkirk via Getty Images)

1993: Bernhard Langer (2), Germany

(Photo by Lutz Bongarts/Getty Images)

1994: José María Olazábal, Spain

(Photo by David Cannon/ALLSPORT via Getty Images)

1995: Ben Crenshaw (2), United States

(Photo by J.D. Cuban/ALLSPORT via Getty Images)

1996: Nick Faldo (3), England

(Photo by David Cannon/ALLSPORT via Getty Images)

1997: Tiger Woods, United States

(Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

1998: Mark O'Meara, United States

(Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

1999: José María Olazábal (2), Spain

(Photo credit JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

2000: Vijay Singh, Fiji

(Photo by Paul Severn via Getty Images)

2001: Tiger Woods (2), United States

(Photo credit TIMOTHY A CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

2002: Tiger Woods (3), United States

(Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

2003: Mike Weir, Canada

(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

2004: Phil Mickelson, United States

(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

2005: Tiger Woods (4), United States

(Photo credit JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

2006: Phil Mickelson (2), United States

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

2007: Zach Johnson, United States

(Photo by Gerry Melendez/The State/MCT via Getty Images)

2008: Trevor Immelman, South Africa

(Photo credit DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

2009: Ángel Cabrera, Argentina

(Photo by Gerry Melendez/The State/MCT via Getty Images)

2010: Phil Mickelson (3), United States

(Photo by Tim Dominick/The State/MCT via Getty Images)

2011: Charl Schwartzel, South Africa

(Photo by Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

2012: Bubba Watson, United States

(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images for Golfweek)

2013: Adam Scott, Australia

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

2014: Bubba Watson (2), United States

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images for Golfweek)

2015: Jordan Spieth, United States

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

2016: Danny Willett, England

(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.