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McIlroy encouraged by career-best Masters finish

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SAN FRANCISCO – Rory McIlroy had the best Masters performance of his career and still didn’t seriously contend for the green jacket.

OK, so no player was going to beat Jordan Spieth the way he played over four days at Augusta National, but McIlroy was encouraged by his career-best fourth-place showing.

After all, the world No. 1 played the par 5s in 14 under par – his main goal entering the week – and broke par all four days for the first time. That still wasn’t enough to chase down Spieth, of course, as McIlroy’s 71-71 start proved too much to overcome.

“The conditions were slightly easier this year than they have been in the past,” he said, “but each and every year I feel like I’m making progress there.”

It might feel as though McIlroy has had a quiet 2015, but the WGC-Match Play is only his fifth PGA Tour start of the season. (For the sake of comparison, this is Spieth’s 11th appearance.) McIlroy will now play five times in the next six weeks, and he’s hoping the increased reps will translate to a few more high finishes.

“I feel like the game is right there,” he said.