U.S. Open: Rory McIlroy adamant his ‘game is there,’ and ‘sooner or later it’s going to be my day’

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BROOKLINE, Mass. — For the third time this season, Rory McIlroy finished inside the top 10 at a major championship. But for the third time this season, McIlroy left a major championship empty handed.

A dramatic finish at Augusta National was good enough for solo 2nd. A squandered opportunity at Southern Hills ended with a T-8. And this week, well this week was a result of inconsistency.

He got off to a great start Sunday, holing a 26-footer for birdie at the first to get to 2 under for the tournament and two back of the lead. But the roller coaster began two holes later.

A bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey stretch from Nos. 3-7 put McIlroy back to even for the day, 1 under for the tournament. He was quickly running out of holes.

A flared wedge on 11 resulted in another dropped shot, and it was officially late early for the four-time major champion.

2022 U.S. Open
2022 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on the fifth green during the final round of the 2022 U.S. Open in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Photo: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

He made back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 before playing the remaining three holes at even par.

“Yeah, the game’s there. Another top five in a major,” McIlroy said after his T-5 finish. “I guess (it) doesn’t really mean anything. Yeah, the game’s there. The game’s there.”

Despite the disappointing result, being in the mix is better than going home early.

“I’ll look back at this as another missed opportunity just as Southern Hills was, but missed opportunities are better than not contending at all. So that is a positive. I have to stay patient at this point because if I just keep putting myself in position, sooner or later it’s going to be my day and I’m going to get one.”

Next up for McIlroy is Hartford, Connecticut, for the Travelers Championship. His last trip to TPC River Highlands ended with a tie for 11th.

Then, it’s time to rest.

“I’ve got one more start next week in Hartford before I go to the Open Championship. I’ll get two weeks of good rest before the Open and play some links golf and prepare and look forward to that. Again, my game’s in good shape. I’ve got one more chance this year to try to get that major.”

The last time the Open went to St. Andrews, McIlroy wasn’t in the field.

On Sunday, he hung around long enough to congratulate Matt Fitzpatrick, and their embrace just off the 18th green was as good as it gets.

If all goes to plan, McIlroy will be the one receiving the love at St. Andrews in a month’s time.