Tiger Woods cut a frustrated figure after his chances of a 15th major title disappeared in the third round of the US Open at Merion.

Woods began the day just four shots off the lead and instantly reduced the deficit with a birdie at the first, but failed to make another and eventually carded a 76 which equalled his highest round in the tournament as a professional.

"It is certainly frustrating because I certainly was feeling like I was playing well this week and I just didn't make the putts I needed to make," said the world number one, whose last major win came five years ago at Torrey Pines.

"On the first two days I had like three three-putts and I was four shots off the lead, and I missed a boatload of putts within 10 feet. So I really wasn't that far off. If I clean up the round and don't three-putt, I'm one shot back starting out today."

Woods, who finished fourth in the US Masters in April, added: "At Augusta I was pretty close and I had the lead at one point and I hit that flag (on the 15th in the second round) and ended up in the water.

"I'm playing well enough to do it and unfortunately just haven't gotten it done."

Woods was playing alongside world number two Rory McIlroy for the third day in succession, but the illustrious duo were outscored by the third member of their group.

McIlroy birdied the first but then hit his tee shot on the second out of bounds on his way to a 75, while Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano carded a 72 to finish five over par.

"If you're not on your game a hundred percent, you get on the wrong side of the greens and it's just frightening because I didn't feel like I played too badly," McIlroy said.

"I missed a few shots here and there and I was trying on every shot out there and I was trying to get myself back into it, but it's tough.

"If you're just not a hundred percent on top of your game, it's going to expose some of your flaws or weaknesses.

"I've been working on the swing quite hard over the last few months, and it looks really good on camera. I just get on the course and I hit a couple of bad shots and I guess that it sort of makes you lose confidence a little bit during the round.

"It's just a bit of a struggle and it seems like I've had a few too many tournaments this year where I've struggled in one round or a couple of rounds and not been able to put it all together.

"I don't feel like it's too far away at all. It's just a matter of believing and staying patient and working hard and knowing that if you work on the right thing, you're going to turn it around."