Rory McIlroy is determined to keep putting himself into contention as he bids to end a barren Major run dating back to his PGA Championship victory at Valhalla in 2014.
McIlroy has recorded 16 top-10 finishes from 29 Major starts since that last triumph. His latest T5 result at the US Open at Brookline added to a runner-up finish at the Masters in April and now up to second in the world rankings, McIlroy is adamant that he’s on the right track but needs to remain patient to finally break through at golf’s top table once more.
“I played well enough to give myself a chance to win. I didn’t get the job done, but I’m closer than I have been in a while, which is good,” McIlroy said.
“I’ll look back at this as another missed opportunity just as Southern Hills [PGA] was, but missed opportunities are better than not contending at all. So that is a positive.
“I have to stay patient at this point because if I just keep putting myself in position, sooner or later it’s going to be my day and I’m going to get one.”
It was a case of one step forward and one back as McIlroy tried to mount a challenge on Sunday at Brookline. With overnight rain playing to McIlroy’s strengths, the Holywood star put his foot to the floor with an opening birdie but he gave the shot back on the third.
That set the tone for the day. It was the same story as a birdie at 4 was cancelled out by a bogey at the drive-able fifth. Another birdie on 6 was cancelled out by a bogey on 7 when he missed the fairway with an iron from the tee. For all he craved momentum, McIlroy just couldn’t find it, but he rightfully remains optimistic.
“It’s definitely been better. It’s still not quite close enough,” McIlroy accepted.
“There were a few holes there today where I made the birdie and then did the reverse once back with the bogey at the next. To win golf tournaments, you just can’t do that.
“But it’s there. It’s close. I just have to stay patient. I’ve got one more opportunity this year to try to get a Major and I’m looking forward to that.”
McIlroy will tee up at this week’s Travelers Championship before taking a fortnight to focus on links prep ahead of the Open, with the small matter of a stop off in Limerick for the JP McManus Pro-Am on July 4th and 5th in between.
A big chunk of that Open prep will revolve around McIlroy finding a 3-wood that he can trust before St Andrews because for all his brave scrambling, improved wedge-play and putting, it was often McIlroy’s tee-ball that let him down at The Country Club.
“I struggled with the 3-wood all year,” McIlroy said.
“I still haven’t quite found the one that I’m 100 percent confident with. Yeah, a few misses left with the 3-wood this week; it’s hard because there’s holes out here where you had to hit fairway wood, and I had to just get really comfortable trying to do that.
“Yeah, maybe something I need to try to work on going into the Open, trying to get a 3-wood that I’m 100 percent comfortable with. But as you said, overall I did a lot of really good things this week — putted well, scrambled well, hit a lot of good iron shots. So I just need to keep doing that, keep doing my thing, and I’ll have another opportunity in a few weeks’ time to try to get another one.”