Poor start has McIlroy ruing misses

SOUTHPORT • Given Rory McIlroy's start of +5 after six holes on the first day of the British Open, the Northern Irishman's joint fourth-place finish on five-under 275 represented a solid week's work.

The 28-year-old world No. 4 believes, however, that he squandered an opportunity at Royal Birkdale to add to his four Major titles and admitted his three-year famine was starting to grate.

"One year (without winning a Major) feels like too long. But these things happen," he said after posting a 67 on Sunday, his best round of the tournament.

"I've still got 15, 20 more years to add to that tally. But, yeah, look, I feel like three years has been too long.

"You look at Jack Nicklaus, he went through a stretch where he didn't win a Major in three years. I'm not comparing myself to Jack. It's hard to win them. It's very hard."

McIlroy's last Major win was the 2014 PGA Championship, which came weeks after his only British Open title at Royal Liverpool, and he now heads to Quail Hollow for this year's final shot at winning one of golf's marquee events.

He said: "The game is in much better shape than it was heading into this week. So I'm happy with that.

  • FINAL LEADERBOARD

  • 4TH ROUND (Selected, USA unless stated)

    268 Jordan Spieth 65 69 65 69

    271 Matt Kuchar 65 71 66 69

    274 Li Haotong (Chn) 69 73 69 63

    275 Rory McIlroy (Nir) 71 68 69 67, Rafael Cabrera Bello (Esp) 67 73 67 68

    276 Brooks Koepka 65 72 68 71, Branden Grace (Rsa) 70 74 62 70

    277 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 69 73 65 70

    278 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 68 72 66 72

    280 Adam Scott (Aus) 69 74 70 67, Rickie Fowler 71 71 67 71

    281 Jason Day (Aus) 69 76 65 71, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 70 73 68 70, Lee Westwood (Eng) 71 74 69 67

    282 Sergio Garcia (Esp) 73 69 68 72

    283 Jon Rahm (Esp) 69 74 70 70

    284 Dustin Johnson 71 72 64 77, Justin Rose (Eng) 71 74 69 70

    285 Ernie Els (Rsa) 68 73 70 74

    289 Danny Willett (Eng) 71 74 73 71

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"But I feel like with the way my game is, I'll definitely have a great chance at the PGA."

Once again McIlroy punctured a round of occasional brilliance with the occasional disaster, this time losing a ball from a wild hook off the 15th tee when he was pushing to get level with China's Li Haotong, the clubhouse leader on six under.

There were also many moments of encouragement, though, with an eagle on No. 17, a couple of birdies and a solid outward half of pars, which suggest he has moved on from his recent troubles that saw him miss the cuts at the Irish and Scottish Opens.

Ever the perfectionist, he said the final round was "a lost opportunity".

"I felt like I had a chance to get in a few shots better than I did. And I didn't," the Ulsterman said.

"And that would have put me a bit closer to the lead going out today and maybe I would have been able to put a bit of pressure on the guys in front of me." REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2017, with the headline 'Poor start has McIlroy ruing misses'. Print Edition | Subscribe