NORTON, Mass. — Rory McIlroy’s start at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Friday couldn’t have been much worse.

After deciding to switch putters and coaches after entering the weekend 130th in strokes gained: putting, he was 4-over through three holes, including a triple bogey on the tricky par-4 12th at TPC Boston.

But he got those four strokes back thanks to a 4-under through the final 14 holes, and a 4-under-par 67 during the second round grew his confidence even more. And perhaps the most striking stat from Saturday was him coming in second in strokes gained: putting. Talk about a quick turnaround with the flat stick.

The 2012 Deutsche Bank Championship winner’s real big move came during Sunday’s third round, though, thanks to a 5-under 67, and at 9-under he’s right in the thick of things for the Labor Day finish. And if he does manage to win, it will be a first of sorts for McIlroy.

“It’s a great opportunity to do something I’ve never done before,” he said.” I’ve never started a tournament like that and then went on to win it. So it’s a great opportunity to overcome a little bit of adversity to start with and then get into it. I’m really happy with — looking back on this week, I think the 4-under par I shot for the last 14 holes in the first round, that gave me a lot of confidence.

“I was patient and I was resilient and I feel like that allowed me to go out there yesterday and play the way I did, and then it just sort of snowballed from there. And obviously I had some confidence going into today from what I did yesterday, and hopefully it will be the same tomorrow.”

McIlroy got off to a hot start Sunday with five birdies on the front nine, although he bogeyed the first hole. But his arch nemesis — the 12th hole — struck again with a double bogey. But he made up those two shots in style with a near albatross (double eagle) on the 18th hole.

“It was nice to finish the way I did, especially after the double on 12, because I had it going pretty well,” he said. “I’ve played the hole 4-over this week, so it wasn’t great. But I made a birdie on 15 and then sort of steadied the ship. And then obviously the last one helped. I’m in a decent position going into tomorrow. The conditions are pretty tricky out there. So hopefully as long as the guys don’t get too far ahead I’ll be within three or four shots of the lead.”

Only time will tell if that’s the case, but he can rest assured that his confidence is flying high in both his putter and all-around game — minus the 12th hole, of course — at TPC Boston.

Thumbnail photo via Eric Sucar/USA TODAY Sports Images