AUGUSTA, Ga. – Rory McIlroy arrived at the Masters with a new pre-tournament routine. The previous seven trips to Augusta National had produced a less-than-desired result and he was looking for a spark.
It didn’t work.
For much of the weekend it looked like the same McIlroy around Augusta National. He was only a shot off the lead heading into the third round but repeatedly recorded untimely bogeys, failed to make many birdies and let, seemingly, every mistake compound itself into another.
The end result was 70-71-77-71 for a 1-over-par total and a 10th-place tie. The 77, playing alongside Jordan Spieth, was the ultimate undoing.
“I’ve been in position before and I haven’t got the job done when I needed to and I don’t think that’s anything to do with my game,” McIlroy said Sunday. “I think that’s more me mentally and I’m trying to deal with the pressure of it and the thrill of the achievement if it were to happen. I think that’s the thing that’s really holding me back.
“I felt very tentative, played very defensively, felt very similar to how I played the last round at Doral, playing with the lead. You’re just trying not to make mistakes instead of attacking and trying to make birdies. Trying not to make mistakes is not my game, that’s not what I do.”
McIlroy was only five shots off the lead heading into the final round. Although he was never going to catch the number that Danny Willett ultimately recorded, he didn’t do himself any favors by making bogey on three of the first five holes. McIlroy made another six birdies from that point but he was just playing for position while out of contention.
“This is the one that I haven’t won and this is the one I want to win more than anything else,” McIlroy said. “Once I overcome that mental hurdle that I’m struggling with at the minute, then I know how to play this course. I’ve played this course very well before and I can string good rounds together here, but it’s just a matter of doing it.”