HOYLAKE, England — The Long and Winding Road is a favorite Beatles song from the beloved group out of nearby Liverpool but it could also describe Rory McIlroy’s pursuit of a major championship during the last nine years.
McIlroy, who won his third of four majors at Royal Liverpool in 2014, shot a final-round 3-under 68 to finish at 6-under 278 and tied for sixth place.
“Solid performance,” McIlroy said. “Improved on my score every day. Yeah, I missed a few putts yesterday. Felt like I putted a bit better today. It was just hard. I needed to go out and shoot something 63, 64-ish, but really hard to do that in those conditions.”
McIlroy raced out to three birdies in a row beginning at the third hole to mount a bit of a charge but a bogey at No. 10 and another at No. 16 were killers.
“I got off to a really good start but it’s just hard to keep that going,” McIlroy said.
McIlroy missed the cut at the Masters, finished T-7 at the PGA Championship and was second at the U.S. Open.
“Solid performance, not spectacular, but a lot of optimism going into the rest of the year,” he said. “I can’t sit here and be too frustrated. You think about my performances in the majors between like 2016 and 2019, it’s a lot better than that.”
While there were encouraging signs along the way, the winless draught persists.
“Never saw this coming,” said NBC’s Paul Azinger, winner of the 1993 PGA Championship. “When he won his fourth major, it looked like the sky was the limit, he might win nine or 10.”
Jack Nicklaus predicted that McIlroy, 25 at the time, was on track to win 18 majors. Yet, nine years later, for all his successes, he’s still stuck on four. Who would’ve thought he’d go 34 majors without a major during his prime – all the while winning 15 Tour titles, including the Players Championship, two FedEx Cup titles and multiple stints at world No. 1. He’s recorded 20 top-10 finishes at the majors, including seven of his last eight.
McIlroy said he won’t dwell on this being another lost year at the majors and is focused on what is still to come.
“I think about trying to go and win a fourth FedEx Cup here in a couple weeks’ time, go try and win a fifth Race to Dubai, go and win a fifth Ryder Cup,” he said. “I just keep looking forward.”
In 266 days, he can start all over and resume his majors quest at the Masters.