For a third week running it proved a Sunday too far for Rory McIlroy with yet another frustrating finish as Dustin Johnson won the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
McIlroy’s final round 67 had all the positives you’d want on a last day including draining a monster eagle putt, brilliantly chipping-in twice for birdie and also holing-out for birdie from a 16th hole greenside bunker.
There was also a booming 341-yard drive but as he and caddy, Harry Diamond relaxed on their private jet and their return flight to Florida, McIlroy was left to rue two bogeys in his opening four holes and a horror double-bogey in finding water guarding the green at the 17th before returning a 13-under tally on the TPC River Highlands course.
Johnson carded the same final round score as McIlroy, a three-under par round of 67 to pip Kevin Streelman by one atop the board with his 19-under par total good enough to claim a 21st Tour success.
“It was a frustrating day and again, as I said yesterday, there’s been some really good stuff in there, but then just some really stupid mistakes,” McIlroy said.
“Even today, like I got off to a good start and then bogeyed some easy holes. It’s a little too up and down, a little bit roller coaster-ish, where it didn’t really feel like that before we stopped.
“It was sort of quite consistent and sort of building rounds very nicely, a lot of pars, a few birdies, not many mistakes. Just over the last few weeks I’ve made too many mistakes, too many bogeys, too many loose shots, and that was sort of what it was this week, as well.”
And in a week where he posted two eagles, 20 birdies but also nine bogeys and a 71st hole double-bogey, McIlroy admitted to too many ‘dumb’ mistakes.
“My decision making was terrible the last few days as I just played some stupid shots, trying to take too much on at times,” he said.
“I think probably playing a little bit and just being a little more thoughtful on the course. Yeah, it’s just sort of dumb mistakes in there that I don’t usually make.”
McIlroy went into day four a distant 10 shots adrift off the lead and for a second day in succession it proved to be a frustrating roller-coaster round.
The current World No.1 had spoken post his third round that for every step he took forward, he was soon taking one step backwards and that was much the scenario on day four.
He kick-started his round with a birdie but dropped shots at the second and fourth before picking-up back-to-back birdies in holing a three-footer at the par-5 sixth and also from the same distance at the seventh.
There was a stroke of brilliance at the par-4 10th when McIlroy chipped-in for birdie from 25th pin-high right of the flag, a first at the hole in the four rounds.
It put McIlroy back inside the top-10 for a first time since his fourth hole on day three.
McIlroy muscled his way into a share of sixth in sensationally sinking a 35-footer for an eagle ‘3’ at the par-5 13th to move to 14-under, then just four shots off the lead. He had also eagled the 13th in an opening round 63.
McIlroy superbly moved to 15-under after finding a greenside bunker right of the flag at the par-3 16th and produced a fist pump in sending his wedge shot to the bottom of the cup.
And with the leaders nearing the turn, McIlroy found a fairway bunker at 17 and then with 145-yards to the hole, his approach shot was about 15-yards shot and in the ‘drink’ with the double dropping him from a then share of fifth to a tie for 10th.
McIlroy will have a week’s break from the Tour before likely heading to Dublin, Ohio for the back-to-back Workday Charity Open (July 9th to 12th) and the following week’s Jack Nicklaus hosted Memorial.
Though after another disappointment, those plans could change.
“I’m not sure where I will play next,” he said.
“Probably it will be the Memorial, maybe the Workday the week before. But the way I’m feeling right now, I feel like a couple weeks off.”
Reigning Open Champion, Shane Lowry was boarding the Tour’s charter flight heading west to Detroit for Thursday’s start to the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Strangely, it is the first time the Tour has travelled to Detroit with Lowry now set to play all four ‘no spectator’ events.
Lowry wrapped-up his first four-rounder since the June 11th return to competition with a closing 67 for a four-under tally and a distant share of 61st place.
Hurting Lowry from finishing higher up the board was his third day 74.
Joining Lowry in ‘Motor City’ will be fellow Irishmen Padraig Harrington and Seamus Power.
Harrington had to ‘self-isolate for a fortnight under U.S. entry rules in order to tee-up on the Detroit Country Club course while the Stateside-based Power will be teeing-up in his Tour event in four months having finished mid-field in February’s Puerto Rico Open.
MCILROY THREE-WEEK ‘RETURN TO PGA TOUR’ FACT FILE:
Best finish – T10th (clubhouse position) Travelers Championship
Poorest result – T41st RBC Heritage
Lowest round – 63 (Day 2, Charles Schwab Challenge & Day 1, Travelers Championship)
Highest round – 74 (Day 4, Charles Schwab Challenge)
Eagles – 3; Birdies – 35; Bogeys – 16; Double-Bogeys – 3