No Augusta glory this year for crestfallen Rory McIlroy
Green jacket proves elusive for Northern Irish golfer, especially after those Par 4 errors
Rory McIlroy hits out of a bunker on the ninth hole during the third round of the Masters. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA
One of his last acts was to grimace as his birdie putt edged the hole, but didn’t drop. Rory McIlroy, resigned to his lot, tapped in for par. The odd part was that this action – the 68th stroke of his final round, the 283rd of his tournament – took place on the ninth green, one only sparsely populated by spectators, as others elsewhere on the course were the focus of attention.
McIlroy’s bid to add a green jacket to his wardrobe was finished for another year, his work done and dusted long before that garment was placed upon Tiger Woods’s shoulders. And as he left the ninth green, his finishing hole having started on the 10th, McIlroy paused momentarily as roars emanated from around Amen Corner where others electrified the air with their deeds.
“My neck’s actually a bit sore looking at all the leader boards,” quipped McIlroy of how he was distracted by what was going on elsewhere.
Although he added another piece of Masters crystal to his collection with an eagle on the 13th hole of his final round, McIlroy – who signed for a 68 for a five-under-par total of 283, which left him in tied-21st place – reflected ruefully on a tournament where his A-game was absent and where too many mistakes, especially on the Par 4s, left him a minor player in this overall drama.
The Northern Irish golfer will have a week off to have a deeper reflection on his own performance, before resuming tournament play in a fortnight’s time at a favoured hunting ground in the Wells Fargo championship at Quail Hollow. Beyond that, there will be a summer of another three Majors: next month’s US PGA at Bethpage, the US Open in June at Pebble Beach and, finally, the British Open at Royal Portrush in July.
There was no air of frustration, no angst in McIlroy’s tone. “I’m good. I’ll go home and I’ll get ready for Charlotte in a couple of weeks time and get ready for that and then obviously the PGA at Bethpage. That’s a busy run and a busy summer of golf. And hopefully I can get myself in the right place for all those events,” said the Northern Irishman, who must wait another year to see if he can complete that last leg of the career Grand Slam.
Can Rory win it next year?
For this particular bid, McIlroy’s failure to keep bogeys off his scorecard proved destructive. In all, he had 16 bogeys over the four rounds which proved too great a handicap, even though he also managed three eagles – three pieces of crystal to remind him of the good parts – and 15 birdies. Just a lack of consistency, too many mistakes, to put him in the mix.
“I was just putting myself out of position off the tee. And then once you get yourself out of position it’s very hard to put yourself back in position. You miss greens, you’re trying to get it up and down, you put pressure on yourself. So my driving accuracy wasn’t quite as good this week as it has been the last few weeks. And that was probably the main reason why I didn’t contend,” admitted McIlroy.
The stats provided confirmation of his problems. He hit only 45 of 72 greens in regulation, a 63 percent hit rate, and found only 33 of 56 fairways, which equated to 59 percent.
It proved to be McIlroy’s first finish outside the top 10 in a tournament this season, as he too was left to stand and watch and admire Woods’s return to glory.
“I think you learn more from those weeks than you do the other weeks. You’ve got some time to reflect out there and maybe think about where you could have done things maybe slightly differently, I guess.
“But yeah, I’ve got two weeks off now . . . I’ll move on from this pretty quickly and just get ready for the next few months. My game is still there,” said McIlroy.
In future years, he admitted he may play the week before the Masters and put the Texas Open in his schedule.
“If anything I just wasn’t quite as sharp as I have been in previous weeks . . . I realised over the past couple of years the best way for me personally to get ready for tournaments is play the week before, usually.”