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Heading into Sunday at “the course that Jack built,” Rory McIlroy had it all going his way. He shot a two-under 70 in tough conditions Saturday to put himself in position as one of three players tied at the top of the leaderboard of the Memorial Tournament.
Not only that, but he was in the final pairing alongside SI Woo Kim. And, early in the round, he looked poised to win his 24th PGA Tour event. After missing a short birdie putt on the third hole, McIlroy bounced back with an incredible chip-in birdie.
But a short missed putt on three was much more indicative of what was to come than the chip-in birdie on four. McIlroy is the best driver of the golf ball on the PGA Tour. He leads the field in driving distance, averaging over 325 yards off-the-tee.
So, he usually dominates the par-5s. And, on a tough course like Muirfield Village, players have to take advantage of the scoring opportunities on the par-5s. Heading into Sunday’s round, McIlroy had played the par-5s at -5 over the first three rounds.
But Sunday, that didn’t happen. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Following a dramatic chip-in birdie, Rory McIlroy struggled badly during the final round of the Memorial Tournament
McIlroy made bogey at the par-5 fifth, birdied the par-4 sixth and then again bogeyed the par-5 seventh. That spelled disaster, especially after he followed with a bogey on the par-3 eighth.
With Denny McCarthy not making any bogeys, McIlroy needed to score. And he just couldn’t get it done.
He finally made birdie on the par-5 11th, but followed that with three-straight bogeys. Rory McIlroy, one of the best golfers in the world, just couldn’t hit a wedge to save his life. He continued to put himself in position off-the-tee, but didn’t execute his approach shots.
This reaction says everything you need to know about McIlroy’s Sunday round.
“NO!” is right. As in, no win for Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy failed to make the cut at both the PLAYERS and The Masters. He skipped an elevated event and took a $3 million penalty to “get his mind right.”
He finished Top 10 in the PGA Championship and seemingly turned the corner a bit. That’s the last tournament he played prior to the Memorial. And, through three rounds, he really appeared to be back to the Rory McIlroy that everyone knows.
But Sunday, with the pressure on, he just couldn’t get it done. McIlroy has a reputation of a golfer who chokes, which is odd for a player who has 23 career victories.
Another Sunday meltdown isn’t going to help the cause.
And that’s exactly what happened to Rory McIlroy at the Memorial Tournament.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak