Rory McIlroy signed off at the 2016 British Open on Sunday with his best round of the competition, carding a four-under 67 at Royal Troon in Scotland.
After he entered the day on level par, the score left him on four under overall. It was still a mixed round, though—his putting frequently cost him opportunities to pick up further shots, and his score could (and should) have been far better.
Here is McIlroy's final scorecard:
|Rory McIlroy's Scorecard|
|Round 2 Score||4||3||4||5||2||4||4||3||3||32|
|Round 2 Score||4||5||5||3||3||4||4||3||4||35|
Here is the live leaderboard:
In stark contrast to his start on Saturday, McIlroy began strongly and almost holed out on the first, per the European Tour:
He then picked up a shot on the second thanks to a sublime approach shot that left him with a straightforward putt.
Tepid putts at the third and fourth cost him further birdies. ESPN.com's Jason Sobel believed his being out of contention was a blessing in disguise:
Nevertheless, after three bogeys in his first five on moving day, it was still an improvement overall.
Indeed, he also offered a more measured response than he did on Saturday. Rather than breaking one of his clubs, he hit back with two successive birdies to move into joint sixth place.
He probably should have done better than pars at the seventh and eighth—his putting was again disappointing—but another birdie at the ninth capped a strong front nine for the Northern Irishman, per the European Tour:
However, there was still an underlying sense of frustration running through his afternoon thanks to his poor short game. The 10th should have been another birdie after a superb approach, and two dropped shots at the 11th and 12th looked as though they would undo much of his good work.
BBC Sport commentator Conor McNamara summed up McIlroy's day:
Indeed, had his putting been on par with the rest of his game, he could have picked up twice as many birdies.
He regained his composure and worked his way back to four under with birdies at the 13th and 16th. The latter hole was where his 3-wood met its end on Saturday, per Joy Chakravarty of Sport360:
Two pars finished off the 27-year-old's round, leaving SportsJOE.ie to wonder how he might have fared with better putting:
Per BBC Sport's Ged Scott, McIlroy said of his round, "I was hoping to play that back nine under par at least one day this week, but it was not quite to be. If I could take anything back it would be the first nine holes on Saturday, but I've done pretty well, considering everything."
McIlroy's approach play showcased his talents on Sunday. If he can replicate that at the PGA Championship, he can put himself in contention there.
However, his putting let him down far too often. To truly give himself a chance in upcoming majors, he'll need to make serious improvements to his short game.