McIlroy says his game “feels close but so far away at the same time”

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy plays from the No. 2 tee during the second round of the 2023 Masters Tournament (Image: Masters Media)

Rory McIlroy still feels at odds with his golf game despite an improved performance at the PGA Championship where he recovered from his Masters nightmare with a T-7 finish at Oak Hill.

McIlroy was far from his best all week and it felt like he was taking one step forward and another backwards, unable to emerge from the fringes of contention as Brooks Koepka overtook him in the major count with his fifth win and third PGA Championship.

The Holywood native carded rounds of 71, 69, 69 and 69 and his 72 holes had the good, the bad and the Rory as he mixed brilliance with stupidity in Rochester.


“I feel sort of close but also so far away at the same time. It’s hard to explain,” summed up McIlroy.

“I feel like sometimes it was the worst I could have played, but then at the same time, it’s like the best I could have done. It just doesn’t feel quite where it needs to be, and again, just need to go back home and work on some stuff. I guess just try to figure it out.

“So a week like this, there’s some good parts and there’s some bad parts. I just sort of trying to pick all those pieces out and obviously see what you can do better and sort of just move on from there.

“I guess that I don’t need my best stuff to compete. I feel like I need my best stuff to win, but you know, I don’t need my best stuff to compete and hang in there. But, yeah, I need to be better.”

McIlroy came into the week under the radar after a missed cut at Augusta was followed by a no show at the RBC Heritage and an underwhelming performance at the Wells Fargo Championship. The four-time major champion admitted he found it easier to get out of his own way at the PGA Championship and that a top-10 finish was an improvement.

“I was more accepting of things out there, and I think it’s hard. Like the previous major championship at Augusta, all I think about is winning, winning, winning, to try to win that green jacket, and you know, I sort of — I then don’t really think about just playing a tournament and the cadence that goes along with getting into rounds and whatever.

“I go to the second tee on Friday morning or Friday afternoon, and I see I’m already ten back of Brooks or whatever. So then I’m thinking, oh, geez, I have no chance of winning, and things sort of crumble. It’s just like being a bit mentally fragile because you’re so focused on the one thing you’re trying to do when, in essence, you just need to play a golf tournament and see where the chips fall at the end of the week.

“I would say a Top-10 finish, I would have been pretty happy with that at the start of the week.

“But then once you’re in there and you actually feel like you could have done a little better, it starts to become disappointing.

“But if I think back to myself on Wednesday, say, just before the tournament started, and someone said, “You’re going to finish T-7 this week,” I would say, actually, that’s probably not a bad week for me with how I’m feeling about everything.|

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