Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry head to the year’s final Major lamenting disappointing closing displays last night at the Bridgestone Invitational and Barracuda Championship respectively.
McIlroy playing in the final WGC – Bridgestone Invitational faded from all contention in posting a closing round 73 for an eight-under par tally to finish in a distant share of sixth place in the hot and humid conditions on the Firestone course in Akron, Ohio.
Lowry began the final round in a tie for fourth at the Barracuda Championship chasing his first win since his Bridgestone Invitational success in 2015 but like McIlroy failed to fire in his final round as he carded a +1 stableford score to drop back 11 places and finish in a tie for 15th in Reno.
This week’s defending PGA champion, Justin Thomas was never under threat in signing for a 69 to win the 20th and last Bridgestone backed event by four shots for a 15-under par total.
Fellow American Kyle Stanley (68) was runner-up on 11-under par.
Any thoughts McIlroy had of matching his victory effort of four years ago, and when he came from three shots back and win by two, never happened.
After leading the field in ‘driving accuracy’ on day three, McIlroy struggled to hit on Ohio barn door dropping to 60th and not helped by hitting just one, and at the first, of the seven outward nine fairways.
McIlroy went into the last day trailing three shots behind Thomas and with the American never under threat from any in the elite 71-player field.
He and Thomas went out in the final group and in the 20th and last staging of the $10m event and while each birdied the second and also dropped a shot at the fifth, it was McIlroy struggling and falling down the board.
It was then game, match and set against McIlroy when he bogeyed three holes in succession from the eighth hole.
McIlroy fell to a share of 10th at nine-under when he bogeyed 15 but got back into the top-six in holing a five-footer for birdie at the par-5 16th.
Dane Thorbjorn Olesen stepped forward to displace McIlroy as the leading European in joining World No. 1 Dustin Johnson in posting a six-under par 64 and with Olesen birding seven of his closing 11 holes.
‘DJ’ went a little better in birding his opening four holes and only to let slip a 63 with a closing hole bogey.
And after capturing last week’s Canadian Open, Johnson singled out a putter change that has him favourite to capture the 100th PGA Championship.
“I felt like I was working really hard on the putting and it just wasn’t getting any better, so I switched putters and it worked a little bit,” he said.
“I gave myself a lot of chances, and close chances, too. It wasn’t like I was making bombs, I was making 8-, 10-footers.
“I felt like especially 7 under through 10, if I could get three or four more birdies, I might have a chance, but it didn’t happen.”
Paul Dunne is headed to Bellerive for a first time after a disappointing showing in his first Bridgestone showing. Dunne was one-under over the first two rounds but played the closing 36-holes in nine-over for an eventual eight-over par tally.
He’ll join McIlroy and Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington in Thursday’s start to the 100th PGA Championship.