The Open: Rory McIlroy happy with performance after finishing two back
By Keith Jackson at Carnoustie
Last Updated: 23/07/18 8:11am
Rory McIlroy reflected on what could have been as his bid for a first major for almost four years came up just short at The 147th Open.
McIlroy struggled to hide his anger after he bogeyed two of the last three holes late on Saturday to slip four shots off the lead going into the final round, and he looked to be out of the running after dropped shots at the second and fifth on day four.
He revived his hopes with birdies at nine and 11 before giving one back at the next, but he suddenly found himself in a tie for the lead with eventual winner Francesco Molinari when he holed a mammoth putt for eagle at the long 14th which hauled him to six under.
The 2014 champion kept himself in contention with battling par saves over the next three holes, and a perfect three-wood set up a great birdie chance with wedge in hand at the last.
But McIlroy's approach came up short and right, and his 20-foot birdie putt to surpass Justin Rose as clubhouse leader was short of pace, although he insisted he was happy with his 70 in testing conditions on the final day.
"I'm not really frustrated, I played well," said the 29-year-old, who finished tied for second with Rose, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele, two strokes adrift of Molinari. "I felt I could have squeezed one more out of the round today.
"When I made the eagle on 14, it was tough to get close on 15, 16, and 17. The only real chance was at the last, but I came out of the wedge a little bit, but still left myself a putt where it was holeable.
"But I think anything under par out there today was a good score. I'm happy with how I played after I didn't get off to a great start, but I hung in there and I battled back. I just sort of ran out of holes at the end.
"When the eagle putt went in on 14, I felt I could get one or two out of these last four holes, but it was just tough. Where they put the pins and with the winds, it was tough to get them close and tough to make birdies.
"And even if I had holed putt on the last, I would have come up one short. But it was really cool and I have no regrets. I played the way I wanted to play this week, and It gives me a lot of encouragement going into the final major of the year.
"I don't really feel like it's a defeat, I feel like it's been a good week. One guy out of 156 is going to win, the other 155 other guys are going to leave a little disappointed.
"But I committed to everything and I hit the shots when I needed to. I made good swings on 17 and on 18, but it just wasn't to be, I just ran out of holes."