Rory McIlroy heads into next fortnight’s PGA Championship admitting his game needs attention after coming-up short in the defence of his Wells Fargo Championship in Maryland.
McIlroy posted a closing round 68 to finish fifth at four-under par, just shy of successfully defending a first tournament in his ultra-impressive run of 32 victories.
American Max Homa made it four Tour victories in also posting a two-under 68 to win by two shots at eight-under-par, with overnight leader Keegan Bradley (72) sharing second place with England’s Matt Fitzpatrick (67) and Cameron Young (66) a six-under on the host TPC Potomac course.
McIlroy has a week off with the family before heading to Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Southern Hills course for the May 19thcommencing second major of the season. It will be McIlroy’s first visit to the city made famous by legendary Gene Pitney, with Southern Hills last playing host to a major when Tiger Woods captured the 2007 PGA Championship.
After three dismal days of cold and wet conditions at the Wells Fargo, the final day dawned overcast and dry, but at around 12 degrees Celsius it still had players and spectators alike all wrapped-up.
McIlroy ended Saturday’s round declaring he needed to get off to a quick start and ‘be a few under after four holes’ however it was not till the par-4 fifth that he bagged a first birdie in holing an eight-footer.
Wearing the brightest of pink shirts under a sleeveless grey zipper top, McIlroy started his final round at two-under, trailing six shots behind fellow PGA Championship winner, Bradley, and he got the start he sought with three birdies in his opening 10 holes.
The effort took McIlroy to five-under-par and at that stage, just two shots from a share of the lead, however following a three-putt bogey at the par-4 11th that proved to be the high water mark of his challenge.
McIlroy’s bogey at the 11th dropped him back into a share of fifth and a touch of frustration started to rear its head when his tee shot at the par-4 14th, officially the easiest hole on the course, found a greenside bunker at the driveable hole. But he splashed out to six-feet shy and delighted in holing the birdie putt.
He ended his round missing the final green well left and walking off with bogey ‘5’ for another top-of-the-board finish, and after his runner-up place at the Masters.
“I’m really happy with where my game is. I think just another week of practicing and playing”, said McIlroy.
“It was a solid day, played well. Had my chances, played the last eight holes in 1 over, which whenever you give yourself a chance and get within like three, obviously is not the way you want to finish, but played well.
“I can’t really put my finger on — my approach game’s much better than it has been. Yeah, I think like little things that aren’t really — like shot selection. Like the shot selection into 16 there trying to hit a hard wedge and not quite getting all of it, hitting the slope, spinning back to the front of the green. You hit a three-quarter 9-iron, that maybe doesn’t happen. It’s not even — sometimes it’s just like picking the right shot at the right time, stuff like that.
“But that’s not — that’s only stuff that you can learn from playing tournament golf, I guess”.