World No.1 Rory McIlroy views near miss at Chambers Bay as 'the one that got away' but says his display was the best he's ever hit the ball at a major championship
Rory McIlroy sent pulses racing on an electrifying final day at the US Open with a barrage of birdies that saw him surge into contention to win his fifth major title at Chambers Bay. The World No.1 holed a monster birdie putt at the 13th to go six-under par for his round, two under for the tournament, moving him just three behind the leaders.
“I really thought with 16 (a short par four) and 18 (a par five) coming in, if I could birdie those two holes and get to four under par I had a great chance with the way the greens were getting out there,” McIlroy said. “It would have been a number for the guys to really think about.
Sadly for McIlroy, a short missed putt for birdie at the 14th took the momentum from his sails and he then bogeyed two of the final four holes to finish on level par for the tournament, five behind the eventual winner Jordan Spieth.
“When I look back, the last few holes have not been kind to me this week and that’s where I will rue some missed opportunities. I feel like it’s one that got away. I feel like I’ve never hit the ball as well in a major championship.”
Rory’s ball-striking was certainly at its peak on Sunday and in a recent interview with Golf Monthly, he acknowledged his driving and mental game are his biggest strengths.
“One of my biggest advantages over my rivals is how I drive the ball. I’m not afraid to pull driver out and get it down there and leave myself with a wedge into the green where other guys are hitting six or seven irons, that makes a difference. Also, I’m not one‑dimensional. I can hit the ball both ways. I can flight it up or down. I’m a little more confident with it. My start lines are much tighter now too, I feel like my game doesn’t have the ability to have these big misses, which is very important.”
“Also mentally, I’ve been so much better the last couple of years just from experience, knowing when to be aggressive and conservative, I handle pressure much better now and that comes from being in positions like that in tournaments. The more you’re in them, the more comfortable you become and I’ve been in them a lot recently.”
The key to McIlroy’s final-day charge was a host of holed putts. McIlroy met up with putting coach Dave Stockton prior to his emphatic win at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow to get an assessment of his technique.
“He noticed my left hand and shoulder were pulling up through impact so he got me feeling like my left hand and shoulder stayed down a little more through the stroke. He also got me to hit with some putts with my left hand only so I’m going to incorporate that into my routine. It only took two minutes but it has really helped me.”