Rory McIlroy’s majors dry spell run has now stretched to 28 straight majors and officially seven years long years despite a sizzling start to his final round of the 104th PGA Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
McIlroy, for a second time in four days on the Southern Hills course, birdied four early round holes in succession from his second hole but they were the only fireworks in eventual closing score of 68 for a final 8th placed showing at two-under, and this after starting Thursday with a five-under 65.
It is McIlroy’s 15th top-10 at the game’s highest level in his 29 majors appearance, since last winning a major at the 2014 PGA Championship in Louisville, Kentucky.
The final day’s play in Tulsa was for the most part overcast and cool, with the majority of players and spectators rugged-up in pull-overs, and McIlroy’s grey top and brown trousers seemingly mirroring the weather. However, his four birdies on the trot from the second brought much needed warmth to an outside chance of coming from well in the pack to possibly steal success.
McIlroy holed a 16-footer for a birdie ‘3’ at the second, a six-footer at the par-3, fourth hole and 26-foot gem at the next, the par-4 fourth, ahead of finding a greenside bunker at the par-5 fifth and splashing out to just four-foot for his birdie ‘4’.
His progress, and any slim hope of capturing a third PGA Championship title was checked with a six hole bogey ahead of 10 straight pars, and then bogeying the 71st hole, ahead of a closing par.
Leading the Irish charge on Sunday was Seamus Power but his double bogey on the second put a major dent in his hopes and unfortunately it was a blow that he was unable to recover from.
Power did respond with a birdie on the 4th followed by five pars to turn in 36 but another bogey followed on 10 and after parring all the way home for a two over tally for the day (one-under for the tournament) he would have been delighted with the result (tied ninth) on Thursday morning but it’s no doubt tinged with some disappointment given his fantastic performance.
Shane Lowry meanwhile ended a 12th PGA Championship appearance with a likely T23rd finish, sandwiching an 11th hole birdie among 17 pars for a one-under-par 69.
Lowry posted earlier scores of 70, 71 and 71 for an eventual two-over tally.
The Clare golfer ended his round just as little-known Chilean Mito Pereira was being introduced on the opening tee, with the 27-year-old looking to create one of the biggest golfing upsets in some time had he been handed the gleaming Rodman Wanaker trophy.
Lowry’s effort would be a fourth best finish among the eight times he has played all four rounds of the PGA Championship, having finished T4th a year ago, T8th in 2019 and T12th in 2018.
Looking back Lowry managed just eight birdies but also posted an equal number of bogeys and a 13th hole double-bogey on Friday.
“I said to Bo (caddy) going down the last, I feel like I’m two or three shots away from having a good week”, said Lowry. “But I’m disappointed because I feel like I could’ve done better this week.
“Overall, it is still another decent performance, there’s no real bad things to take away from that. Yes, I got up-and-down a good few times, when I needed to do but I did miss quite a few chances out there to shoot a decent score.
“I felt I played nice golf but then again, I holed some nice putts when I needed to for pars. I felt like I was holing the putts for par but missing for birdies and that’s the way it was all day.
“But it is another decent performance and I’m going to finish in the top 30 somewhere. It’ll be a few FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai points. It is what it is and I’m happy enough for the week.
“There are no real things I need to go away and work on and I’m looking forward to the next big one.”
That’s now all behind him, with four weeks to the third major of the season, the June 16th commencing US Open at the famed Brookine Club in Massachuetts.
Lowry now has a week off before heading to Dublin, Ohio and ‘Jack’s Event, the June 2nd to 5th Memorial at Muirfield Village.
If fact, there is no Irish teeing in this week’s $8.4m Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas
MEANTIME …All Irish golfing interest will still be focussed on the Lone Star State later today (Monday) with Graeme McDowell among 131 hopefuls looking to secure a US Open tee time.
McDowell, as winner of the 2010 US Open, will be looking to finish among the leading qualifiers at two courses, and just a few miles in northern Dallas.
It will be the second straight year G Mac will be seeking a U.S. Open tee time, and this after his 10-year exemption in winning at Pebble Beach expired at the close of the 2020 championship.