After admitting an injury has nagged him for weeks and he was uncertain about his future, McIlroy made it clear he will spend the next week sorting out his plans for the remainder of the year.
Jason Day went from the ridiculous to the sublime as he tried to get back into contention for a second US PGA Championship title at Quail Hollow.
Spieth had won two of his last three starts heading into the season's final major, but the magic he displayed at Royal Birkdale was absent this week at Quail Hollow. If I finish bogey-bogey-bogey I would probably be standing here going; I didn't need that break.
"I can't believe Col Swatton (his caddie) did not give him a wedge and start walking, say that's the only choice mate".
"I will try to improve on the weekend and try to get a couple of scores under par".
Those mistakes led to bogeys at the second, third, fifth and sixth before he rallied in true McIlroy style, converting five footers for birdie at the par-five seventh and short, par-four eighth before leaving a 12 footer hanging on the left lip at the last.
"So I hit a six iron and just said, "okay, I'll bounce it up the cart path and see where this goes". That's the next big thing on my radar".
McIlroy will now go three years without a major victory, and the 28-year-old - a win at Augusta shy of a career Grand Slam - said he was desperate to be contending again. "You don't want to be teeing off at 9:45 on the final rounds of a major on a Sunday. That is not where you want to be", he said.
"You know, I think today, the No. 1 thing for me was, I didn't really hit a lot of great shots but I didn't really hit a lot of really bad shots", Stroud said. That aggravated it a little bit.
Asked if he saw a "low one" out there, he said: "Yeah, but I guess a low round used to be a 61 or a 62". I don't want to tell myself too much but since Augusta I have putted well. If I'm capable of playing, I feel like why shouldn't you. He discovered a slight rib fracture after a playoff loss in the South African Open and he took seven weeks off to let it heal. Well, it happens to be so "golf" that after talking to the press yesterday he was desperate to get back to the practice range.
Molinari was tied fourth alongside Louis Oosthuizen (67) and Chris Stroud, who has five more holes to play.
He said the pain he's feeling now is "not as bad" as it was in May, when he said it "really sort of flared up on me" at the Players Championship. So it's there and I can play 18 holes. I have got this next week off to assess what I need to go forward.
"But once I get done, having to go through the whole routine of getting it ready to go again the next day, you shouldn't have to do that".