Nothing went right for Rory McIlroy in the third round of 2014 U.S. Open, but he had 18 more holes on Sunday to make a late charge. Unfortunately, that run would hit a speed bump on the back nine.
After getting off to a slow start on the first hole at Pinehurst No. 2, the Northern Irish player birdied on the third and put together a steady round in North Carolina. McIlroy closed out the U.S. Open with a final-round score of three-over 73, finishing at six over on the tournament.
Heading into the final round, McIlroy had already put himself well out of the running. With Martin Kaymer jumping out to a huge lead after the first two rounds, McIlroy was simply attempting to climb back into the top 10 and close to even par on Day 4.
The former world No. 1 spoke about his hope coming into the final round, per BBC Sport:
That is my target now. If I had kept it together and shot around par I might have had a bit of a chance. ... I got off to a pretty rough start. I played OK but just left myself in some difficult spots and could not get up and down.
I played well in the back nine, pretty solid, and recovered it a little bit. But it was not what I was looking for a the start of the day.
Ultimately, the Northern Irish player would walk off the course tied for 27th with several players still on the course.
McIlroy was unable to reach his goal but still had a much better start to the round than his Saturday showing. Following a day where he wound up with four bogeys on his first six holes, McIlroy notched a solid start to the day after a bogey on No. 1.
Unlike the prior day in which McIlroy stumbled on par fours, he finished with two pars and a birdie on the next three holes that stymied him on Saturday. After a mostly clean front nine with two birdies and two bogeys, McIlroy was sitting even heading into the 10th hole.
His round then came slightly unwound on the 12th hole, double bogeying the par-four and moving to two over on the day. After parring the next three holes, a bogey on the 16th would drop the former No. 1 player further down the leaderboard.
Despite the adversity he faced at Pinehurst, McIlroy spoke about growing from the experience, per Golf.com:
"I'm looking forward to playing a U.S. Open in tough conditions again because that's the only way you learn how to play it." - Rory McIlroy— Golf.com (@si_golf) June 15, 2014
McIlroy was then forced to watch from the clubhouse as Kaymer attempted to win the tournament from wire-to-wire. That accomplishment would pair Kaymer with McIlroy and Tiger Woods in one category, as Golf Central notes:
Kaymer looks to join Woods & McIlroy as the only players to win a major wire-to-wire (no ties) in the last 30 years. pic.twitter.com/85hEPZXB0b— Golf Central (@GolfCentral) June 15, 2014
Will McIlroy win a major this year?
After yet another rough round for McIlroy at Pinehurst, he has just over one month before the British Open begins. His best finish at The Open Championship came in 2010, when he came away with a third-place result.
With just two majors remaining in the season, McIlroy's hope of capturing two majors this season appears to be slim. He has time to correct his mistakes from the U.S. Open, but his late struggles at Pinehurst look like a bad sign for McIlroy.
Though he has a win at the PGA Championship during his career, conquering Royal Liverpool will be nearly as difficult as it was at Pinehurst.
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