Next major title worth ‘100 Sundays like this’ insists Rory McIlroy

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World number three endures another near miss at US Open as wait for fifth major crown continues.
Posted on
June 19, 2023
by
The Editorial Team in
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Rory McIlroy insisted he would endure the pain of another 100 near-misses as long as he finally ends his major championship drought.

McIlroy held a share of the lead when he two-putted the par-five opening hole of Sunday’s final round of the 123rd US Open, but that would prove his only birdie of a disappointing closing 70.

Wyndham Clark’s own 70 was enough to give the 29-year-old American his first major title at Los Angeles Country Club, while McIlroy has now recorded 19 top-10 finishes since winning his fourth in the 2014 US PGA.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy reacts after missing a putt on the first hole during the final round of the US Open (Marcio J. Sanchez/AP)

Asked if it was exhausting to keep being asked about another missed opportunity, McIlroy said: “It is, but at the same time when I do finally win this next major it’s going to be really, really sweet.

“I would go through 100 Sundays like this to get my hands on another major championship.”

McIlroy conceded his underwhelming final round had echoes of last year’s Open Championship, when he held a share of the lead, carded two birdies in a closing 70 and was overhauled by Cameron Smith’s brilliant 64.

“The last real two chances I’ve had at majors I feel like have been pretty similar performances, like St Andrews last year and then here,” the world number three added.

“Not doing a lot wrong, but I didn’t make a birdie since the first hole today. Overall when you’re in contention going into the final round of a US Open, I played the way I wanted to play.

“There was just a couple of shots, two or three shots over the course of the round that I’d like to have back.”

The first of those was a missed birdie putt from four feet on the eighth, which played the easiest hole in the final round, and the second his approach to the par-five 14th which plugged in the face of a greenside bunker.

McIlroy did get relief for an embedded ball, but failed to get up and down to save par and Clark’s birdie on the same hole moments later gave him what ultimately proved a vital three-shot lead.

“As I was walking up to it (on 14), it felt like it was a perfect full sand wedge. Hit it hard, get some spin on it,” McIlroy explained.

“Then while we were getting prepared for the shot, the wind started to freshen a little bit. Full sand wedge wasn’t getting there, so I said to Harry (Diamond, his caddie), three-quarter gap wedge would be perfect.

“I feel like I didn’t time the shot perfectly. I hit it when the wind was at its strongest and the ball just got hit a lot by the wind, and obviously it came up short.

“If I had it back, I think I had the right club and the right shot. I might have just had to wait an extra 15 or 20 seconds to let that little gust settle.”

McIlroy’s next chance to end his drought will come at next month’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, where he lifted the Claret Jug in 2014.

Asked when the countdown to the Open would begin, McIlroy joked: “Three minutes ago, I guess. I’ll play Travelers next week, I’ll play the Scottish Open, but I’m focused on making sure that I’m ready to go for Liverpool.”

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