TULSA, Okla. – Rory McIlroy will rue the missed opportunity that was the 104th PGA Championship.
He closed in 2-under 68 for a 72-hole total of 2-under 278. Another top-10 at a major and another major without a victory. The four-time major winner is now 0-for-his-last-28.
This one stung. So much so that McIlroy left Southern Hills without saying a word to the media. He declined all requests, packing his bags and departing in his Cadillac courtesy vehicle.
McIlroy stewed after the round on Saturday, too, blowing off the media. What could he say other than that he likely had cost himself a shot at the title. McIlroy raced into the lead on Thursday with a 65. His strut was back. This was going to be the week he got one for the thumb and claimed his fifth major title. He only hit six fairways on Friday and shot 1-over, failing to take full advantage of playing in the better weather wave, but was lurking at 4 under.
On Saturday, McIlroy made a double bogey and a triple bogey on the par 3s and lost nearly 4 strokes to the field on the greens. He shot 74 – the eighth time in his last nine major starts that’s he posted a round of 73 or worse – and entered the final round nine strokes behind 54-hole leader Mito Pereira.
It would take a heroic effort to overcome his deficit. But just like at the Masters in April where he shot a final-round 64 to finish second to Scottie Scheffler, McIlroy came out of the gates hot on Sunday with nothing to lose. He reeled off four birdies in a row starting at No. 2. He was 4 under and it seemed possible that he could post a low score and back door his way into his fifth major title as an inexperienced bunch ahead of him succumbed to the pressure.
McIlroy bogeyed the difficult par-3 sixth hole and the dream was over. He didn’t make another birdie all day. He hit 14 greens on Sunday, but too many times his birdie putts were from long range and he left them short when he could ill afford to. At the 12th, he belted a 361-yard drive and had 92 yards left to the green.
When he had to have birdie, McIlroy wedged to 15 feet. The fans applauded, but it was a meek effort and he failed to convert the putt. His wedge game is a work in progress and continues to hold him back in big moments. McIlroy made bogey at 17, meaning he shot 2-over on the final 13 holes once he was on the brink in contention. The only putt of substance he made on the way to the house was an 11-foot par putt at 18.
It added up to another missed opportunity and it left McIlroy speechless.