Two holes stopped Rory McIlroy's ‘run at the title’ Sunday at the U.S. Open

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Rory McIlroy was dialed in ... until Torrey Pines ate him up like it did so many players coming down the stretch on Sunday at the U.S. Open.

“I gave myself a great chance today. Even through 10 holes, I was right in the thick of things. It was really two holes that basically stopped the sort of run at the title,” said McIlroy after a 2-over 73 to finish T-7.

Following a three-putt bogey on the par-3 11th, McIlroy’s second shot on the par-4 12th plugged into the lip of the downslope in the greenside bunker, which he proceeded to shank into the treacherous rough. He chipped out from there and missed the 6-footer to make double bogey. McIlroy gave himself a glimmer of hope when he two-putted for birdie at the par-5 13th, but he finished his last five holes in 1 over par.

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“Once I made those little mistakes on 11 and 12, I felt like I was just chasing a little bit, and then ultimately couldn't really get anything done from there, but apart from that this week, it's been really positive," McIlroy said. "I think I gained over five strokes on the field tee to green yesterday, so I have to take the positives from this week. Yes, it is disappointing that I had a chance and didn't get the job done, but considering where I've been the previous few majors, it's a big step in the right direction.”

McIlroy, DeChambeau discuss coming up short

In previous tournaments where Rory was in contention, he mentioned how he wasn't fully confident in his abilities. “The last few times I've been in this sort of position, I've went out on Sunday hoping to play well, where I feel like now I know what to do to play well, and I know I have the tools to play well," he said.

Every champion knows that golf is a struggle until you win. Then it’s a struggle again. But the power of self-belief, trust and perseverance keeps McIlroy hungry.

Rory knows he's close: "It’s just a matter of execution and sticking to what I've been working on.”