Putting problems leave McIlroy off the pace in Korea

REUTERS - Rory McIlroy's search for an elusive first victory of the year is set to continue after a cold putter left the former world number one 10 strokes off the pace after the penultimate round of the Korea Open on Saturday.

The 24-year-old Northern Irishman, who has slipped to sixth in the world rankings after a disappointing season, hit three bogeys and a double bogey against a lone birdie in a four-over-par 75 to sit tied 13th at one-over.

South Korea's Kim Hyung-tae took a healthy four-stroke advantage into the final round after an error-free five-under-par 66 which took his three-day total to nine-under at the Woo Jeong Hills Country Club near Cheonan, south of Seoul.

McIlroy, the top draw at the one billion Korean won event, missed some birdie chances on the front nine to reach the turn at level par for the day.

But a double bogey on the 10th and another bogey immediately after destroyed his round.

"I just think the story of the day is that I missed a lot of putts, missed a lot of chances for birdies at the start of the round and then missed a few short ones for pars in the middle and end of the round," he told reporters.

"It's a struggle, especially where they've put some of the pin positions. It's tough to get yourself to commit to a certain line because you'll hit a few and they'll go through the break, and some turn more than others."

The twice Major winner, who won the Order of Merits on both sides of the Atlantic last year, promised one final assault on Sunday.

"Last time here (in 2011) I shot 64 in the last round so it would need something probably similar or a little better to have a chance," he said.

"A frustrating day, because I was in contention after two days and if you shoot a solid score today you're right in there. I've just got to go out there tomorrow and shoot the best score that I can."

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Patrick Johnston)

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