scheduled tribe. ANDREWES, Scotland (AP) – Every day, Rory McIlroy looked out the window of his hotel room to the 18th hole on the Old Course and imagined his name atop the giant yellow leaderboard as the British Open champion at the House of Golf .
It was actually Sunday, when he went to the first tee to cheer loudly – “Bring it home, Rory!” – To start your last round. Still almost two hours later, when McIlroy took a two-shot lead after 10 holes and golf’s “holy grail”, as he calls it winning an Open Championship at St Andrews, was oh-so-close .
Imagine the pain McIlroy felt when he failed to close off the first major championship win since 2014.
“At the end of the day, it’s not life or death,” McIlroy said. “I’ll have other chances to win the Open Championship and I’ll have other chances to win the Major.
“But it’s one that I think I let slip.”
It was with a resigned look that McIlroy took off his hat and saluted the spectators after his 2-under 70 on both the back and sides of the 18th green, which earned him two strokes from the champion golfer of the year, Cameron Smith. left back.
McIlroy said he didn’t do much wrong on Sunday. He didn’t do much either.
The simple fact is that McIlroy’s putter had gone cold. He made two putts on each green in his final round, making only two birdies.
Smith, for his part, made eight birdies – five to come in succession at the start of his back nine to give him the lead and another to drop McIlroy, waiting 350 yards on the 18th tee, The Eagles were required to force a playoff.
One of the most famous holes in golf, with thousands of fans watching from the grandstands and hotel balconies surrounding the 18th Green, McIlroy hit his tee shot short of the green.
He had to chip from 27 yards but his shot went over the hole. His shoulders sank. He finished at 18-under, two behind Smith and in third, and his long wait for a Major – to join the likes of Seve Ballesteros and Byron Nelson at No. 5 – would enter his ninth year.
“I got beaten up by a better player this week,” McIlroy said, speaking in earshot of cheer from the 18th green in a media tent where Smith was being given a claret jug. “Twenty-under par for four rounds of golf around here is a really, really impressive game, especially to go out and score a 64 today to finish it.
“Yeah, I’ll regret a few missed putts that slipped.”
Playing disciplined golf brought McIlroy to the point where he tied with Victor Hovland for the lead after three rounds at 16-under. And he stayed true to that approach on Sunday, when he played steady and let the guys behind him try to make big plays.
McIlroy was never in trouble with the tee and hit every green in regulation. He was the lone leader from the fifth hole to the 13th hole. That bogie was free.
It was a controlled, measured performance on the final day of a Major, which can’t always be said of McIlroy.
The putt just didn’t fall.
It looked like a big shot came at the tough road hole, No. 17, where McIlroy jumped 18 feet for one of his best shots of the day. He missed the putt to the left, bent his knees, then looked to the sky.
“I wasn’t really worried about what anyone else was doing. I was just doing my job,” McIlroy said.
“It was working well until I needed an answer to what Cam was doing there. Coming in at number 14, I knew Cam was going to go 19 (under) at the time.” I was on 18 (under). So I knew I needed to answer. I didn’t get shots or putts to do that.”
The Majors are over for 2022 and McIlroy is the only player to finish in the top 10 of them all. He described it as one of the best seasons in a long time.
Still, in his upcoming three-week vacation, he will regret how a second claret jug—this one, the most coveted in the house of golf—slipped from his fingers.
“I can’t be too disappointed with how this year went and how this year is going,” he said. “I’m playing some of the best golf I’ve played in a long time. So it’s just a matter of knocking on the door, and eventually one will open.”
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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80