AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy entered the final round of the U.S. Masters on Sunday with his best chance yet to close out the final leg of the career grand slam but let it slip away with his worst round of the week.
The 28-year-old, who is no stranger to Augusta National heartbreak having thrown away a four-shot lead in the final round in 2011, started three shots behind the leader and eventual champion Patrick Reed but shot a two-over-par 74 to tumble out of contention.
The Northern Irishman said he would need some time to pick apart another letdown in the final round.
“I’m just off the 18th green. But I’ll sit down and reflect over the next few days and see what I could have potentially done better,” said McIlroy. “More whether it be mindset or ‑‑ I don’t know, I just ‑‑ I just didn’t quite have it today.”
On a day when the course average of 70.49 was the lowest of the entire week, McIlroy delivered a clunker that included five bogeys — one more than his first three rounds combined.
“It’s hard to take any positives from it right now, but at least I put myself in the position,” said the former world number one. “That’s all I wanted to do.”
McIlroy has always been a streaky player who can stack up wins in bunches, perhaps never more so than in 2014 when he won the British Open, World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship in three consecutive starts.
He arrived at Augusta National this week as a favourite after getting a much-need injection of confidence with his win at Bay Hill last month.
But despite leaving Augusta National without the coveted Green Jacket he so dearly wants, McIlroy was in no doubt he has what it takes to win the year’s first major.
“Oh yeah, 100 percent,” said McIlroy. “I’ve played in two final groups in the last seven years, I’ve had five top-10s, I play this golf course well. I just haven’t played it well enough at the right time.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford