Rory McIlroy gives us all reason to believe again with stunning Masters run
When this guy gets on a run, watch out.
If Rory McIlroy can ever get his majors act together on Thursday and Fridays, he could still end his career with a clutch more big wins.
You just can't quit Rory McIlroy.
Every time you tell yourself that you will not, you cannot, you just bloody won't get invested in the guy, he starts shooting from the hip and you get sucked in again.
He won his last major in 2014. Eight years ago. Eight years. It's simultaneously mad and, for those that have followed him closely, it makes sense.
He has cared too much, he has cared too little, he has cared just enough. None of it has mattered.
Every time you think he is getting back in the zone, he will have a Masters, Open, USPGA or US Open that makes you curse yourself for succumbing to hope.
The albatross [and not the good one] for McIlroy has been his opening rounds. In this Masters, he went 73, 73 to start. In the context of a tough tournament, it was good, but he was already out of touch. By Friday night, he was already 10 behind the steadiest Eddie out there - Scottie Scheffler.
On Masters Sunday, after a positive third round, Rory McIlroy started his final round 10 shots adrift of overnight leader Scheffler.
Kevin Na, Bob McIntyre and Jon Rahm showed what was possible with rounds of 69, earlier in the day. Russell Henley had also given the latter starters hope by shooting 31 for the front nine.
McIlroy saw that. He saw it all. He saw it all and went so much lower.
Out in 32, home in 32. 22 putts. Six birdies. One eagle. 64 strokes.
There were highlights aplenty, but these were two of our favourites. This chip on 10:
Rory, you teasing S.O.B!! pic.twitter.com/fLTWNigbSG
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) April 10, 2022
And this incredible hole-out from the bunker on 18:
Get tae feck! pic.twitter.com/RvPMvc04I5
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) April 10, 2022
'I'm getting the hang of this place' - Rory McIlroy
Such was his deficit from Scottie Scheffler that McIlroy would finish well over an hour before the American. Golf fans watching told themselves he was definitely, definitely too far back.
It was a nice ride and all, but no need to get carried away.
Then McIlroy eagled 13 and went to -6 with five to play. If he can just get two or three more birdies, some of us thought, he might have a chance. We were back on-board.
A poor tee shot on 15 cost him a chance to go for the green in two, and 16 was another chance gone. By 18, we were telling ourselves it was fun while it lasted, and then he chipped in from the bunker after using the slope to feed the ball back towards the hole.
McIlroy went spare. The crowd went ballistic - Rory, Rory, RORY!
It was no green jacket, but it was fun ride. Afterwards, he told Sky Sports:
"I'm getting the hang of this place, after 14 years of trying. Whatever happens, I'm going to keep coming back."
Scheffler was not for catching, though. It was not all pretty, but he was so damn impressive. After McIlroy had carded a clubhouse lead of -7, Scheffler's immediate response [his next three holes] was par, birdie, birdie.
Another year goes by without McIlroy completing the Grand Slam, but he has got us invested in his three other bites at the majors cherry in 2022. We are on this ride until it stops.
Shane Lowry fighting until the death
While Seamus Power hit his lowest round of the Masters, a 70, to finish on +4, Shane Lowry had a right old rollercoaster of a final round.
Starting on -2, and seven shots back from Scheffler, Lowry got an early birdie before a disaster on the par-3 fourth hole saw him card an ugly '6' on his scorecard.
That triple bogey would have ended most golfers out there, but Lowry kept fighting. His response to that huge blip was to card three birdies in a four-hole stretch to climb back up the leaderboard.
All that fighting spirit must have emanated from his days getting his teeth jarred and jolted playing Ireland's other favourite past-times...
“Growing up, Shane played Gaelic football, soccer, hurling…sports where you really want to know a dentist..” Frank Nobilo recapping Lowry’s dangerous childhood on American TV. #TheMasters
— Fionn Davenport (@fionndavenport) April 10, 2022
Lowry did not get out of Amen Corner without one bogey, but he rallied again to get birdies on 13, 15 and 18. A top five finish was just reward for a positive week with a heap of highs and lows.
Speaking/writing of 'deserved', though, take a bow Scottie Scheffler.
A worthy champion.
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