It might need been becoming if somebody from Holywood received this 12 months’s U.S. Open at Los Angeles Nation Membership. However Rory McIlroy, born within the Northern Eire city by that identify, will not be having that sort of 12 months.
On Sunday, McIlroy was chasing his first main championship title in 9 years, a drought that continues to shadow a luminous profession that started with 4 main titles from 2011 to 2014. In April, he missed the minimize on the Masters Match. A month later, he completed tied for seventh on the P.G.A. Championship.
Then, on June 6, McIlroy, essentially the most vociferous loyalist supporting the PGA Tour in its feud with the Saudi-back LIV Golf circuit, realized only some hours earlier than information broke that the 2 excursions had shockingly shaped a enterprise partnership.
McIlroy, like nearly the entire PGA Tour’s gamers, felt blindsided.
However on Sunday, a buoyant, smiling McIlroy, 34, was once more enthusiastically chasing one other main title, within the last spherical of the 123rd U.S. Open. He birdied the opening gap and for many of the subsequent 4 hours appeared poised to reel within the eventual match winner, Wyndham Clark, the third-round co-leader with Rickie Fowler.
McIlroy, nonetheless, by no means birdied one other gap, and ultimately, Clark, after some nervous closing moments, outlasted McIlroy by a stroke as each golfers shot even-par 70s. It was McIlroy’s third runner-up end at a significant and his tenth end within the high 5 of a significant since 2014.
“I fought to the very finish, and I’m getting nearer,” McIlroy mentioned Sunday of his chase for a fifth main title, including: “I simply received to maintain placing myself in these positions and, you already know, in the end it’s going to occur for me.”
McIlroy mentioned he felt a hyperlink between his efficiency on Sunday and his second-place end eventually 12 months’s British Open at St. Andrews.
“The final two actual possibilities I’ve had at majors have been fairly related performances,” he mentioned. “Not doing quite a bit flawed.”
McIlroy’s pursuit went all the way down to the ultimate strokes of the occasion, as Clark, enjoying within the last group of the day, was pressured to execute a two-putt from 60 ft on the 18th inexperienced to clinch the championship.
McIlroy conceded that he hoped for a miscue.
“You don’t need to want unhealthy on anybody, however you’re actually hoping for a three-putt,” he mentioned. “You’re hoping to by some means get right into a playoff to maintain giving your self an opportunity. You’re rooting for one man, and that man is your self at that time. A mistake may give you a glimmer of hope.
“However Wyndham was just about rock stable all day, and that was a fantastic two-putt on the final.”
McIlroy’s fourth spherical started auspiciously as he reached the inexperienced on the par-5, 585-yard first gap together with his second shot and two-putted for a gap birdie that briefly moved him right into a tie for the match lead.
However he struggled to capitalize on that early momentum at the same time as he registered par after par — a streak of 12 in all. He confirmed nerve in sinking a number of tense four-foot par putts however didn’t get his strategy pictures shut sufficient for simpler birdie makes an attempt.
McIlroy was hanging on however couldn’t convert any putt longer than seven ft all through the center of his spherical. On the eighth inexperienced, he pulled an eight-foot birdie putt properly left of the outlet, a missed alternative that McIlroy particularly talked about in his post-round information convention.
On the par-3 ninth gap, McIlroy’s towering strategy shot with an iron got here to relaxation 14 ft from the flag. As he walked onto the inexperienced, followers in two packed grandstands implored him to make a reasonably easy putt that may have put him in a tie with Clark, however once more McIlroy couldn’t seize the second.
McIlroy’s run of consecutive pars ended on the par-5 14th gap after his tee shot bounded into the tough left of the green. He was pressured to put up in need of the inexperienced with a second shot, though he then confronted a brief wedge shot to the inexperienced.
McIlroy later mentioned he was selecting between two golf equipment for the shot, however he felt a wind gust simply earlier than he started his swing, and that impeded the shot’s momentum.
“I had the appropriate membership, however I might need simply needed to wait an additional 15 or 20 seconds to let that little gust settle,” he mentioned.
McIlroy’s golf ball landed a few foot in need of excellent and didn’t clear a big bunker defending the entrance of the 14th inexperienced. The ball embedded in a grassy financial institution between the sand and the inexperienced.
He was granted free aid within the grass to the appropriate of the bunker, however his dicey, downhill chip to the inexperienced rolled 26 ft from the outlet. That led to bogey, and McIlroy fell to 9 underneath par, which prolonged Clark’s result in two strokes.
McIlroy closed with 4 routine pars.
He was requested on the conclusion of his Sunday information convention if he was rising weary of answering questions concerning the nine-year look ahead to a fifth main championship victory. He conceded that it was exhausting however added: “On the identical time, after I do lastly win this subsequent main, it’s going to be actually, actually candy. I’d undergo 100 Sundays like this to get my arms on one other main championship.”