Sports / Golf

McIlroy finishes on high note

By Reuters in Augusta Georgia (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-15 07:17

Rory McIlroy ended a frustrating Masters with his best round of the tournament on Sunday to record his first top-10 finish at Augusta National.

A day after he suffered the embarrassment of being beaten by a non-competing amateur, McIlroy provided a reminder of what he is capable of with a final round of three-under 69.

"I've always enjoyed coming back here; love the golf course," he said.

"I love playing it and I know I can do well here. It's just a matter of making the most of my chances, because I gave myself plenty of chances here this week.

"If I had converted a few more and played the par-fives better, it could have been a different story."

With his fiance, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki watching from the gallery, McIlroy finished the tournament at even par and tied for eighth place, surpassing his previous best result of 15th in 2011.

The Masters was the only major the Northern Irishman had not finished in the top 10 and he said his performance gave him renewed confidence he could eventually win the coveted green jacket.

"I'm really comfortable on the tees. I'm really comfortable with the second shots. I'm just comfortable on the golf course," McIlroy said.

"I figured out something in my putting today on the sixth hole and then I putted a little better after that."

McIlroy has struggled at Augusta National ever since he blew a lead in the 2011 tournament.

Ahead by four shots at the start of the final round, he closed with an 80 that included a triple-bogey on the 10th hole that sent him tumbling out of contention.

The following day he burst into tears when he spoke to his mother on the telephone.

He was in contention in 2012 before shooting nine-over for the weekend, then threw away any hope of winning last year with a third-round 79.

He broke par in three of his four rounds this year but paid the price for a second round 77 that almost saw him miss the cut.

"It's been a frustrating week, because I felt like from tee-to-green I played as good as the leaders," he said.

"I don't think I've ever played as good tee-to-green around this course as I have this week.

"To be above par is very comfortable; I just need to take some more chances that I've given myself on the greens."

The 24-year-old's strong finish helped make amends for his surprise loss to a marker on Saturday.

As the last of the 51 players to make the cut and because there was an odd number, the former world No 1 was assigned a marker, Augusta local and club member Jeff Knox.

Although he was allowed to play, Knox's main job was to record his playing partner's score. His own score was not officially recognized, but when the pair completed their rounds, he had shot 70 to McIlroy's 71.

"I feel more comfortable here. I feel like I can go out and play my game and hit the shots," said McIlroy.

"I'm definitely not as tentative around this place as I used to be.

"I'm becoming a lot more aggressive and hitting iron shots closer to the hole.

"I think that's a good thing because I just feel more comfortable on the course.

"I'm not as scared with some of the trouble, because I know what to expect."

 McIlroy finishes on high note

Rory McIlroy tracks a tee shot on Sunday. Emmanuel Dunand / Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 04/15/2014 page24)

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