Lost in the excitement of Matt Fitzpatrick’s maiden major at the 2022 U.S. Open, and Brooks Koepka’s exit from the PGA Tour, was the fact that Rory McIlroy once again failed to win that elusive fifth major.
The now 33-year-old Northern Irishman finished tied for fifth in Boston and will enter St Andrews, hoping to avoid another off season holding the same four majors he owned as a 25-year-old.
“I have to stay patient at this point because if I just keep putting myself in position, sooner or later it’s going to be my day,” said McIlroy, who was once considered a threat to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major wins.
“I’ve got one more start next week in Hartford [the Travelers Championship] before I go to the Open Championship [at St Andrews]. I’ll get two weeks of good rest before the Open and play some links golf and prepare and look forward to that.
“Again, my game’s in good shape. I’ve got one more chance this year to try to get that major.
“It’s still not quite close enough. There were a few holes there today where I made the birdie and then made bogey at the next. To win golf tournaments you just can’t do that.
“It wasn’t that easy out there. I needed to shoot a 65 or a 66 to get the job done and I just wasn’t quite on it enough to do that. I still feel like I played well and shot a solid round of golf, but just not quite good enough to contend.
“I’ll look back at this as another missed opportunity just as Southern Hills (PGA) was, but missed opportunities are better than not contending at all. So that is a positive.”
In his first 24 major appearances, McIlroy won four in a 15-start span, but has come up empty in his last 29 and has really not even contended, despite some (backdoor) high finishes.
McIlroy was asked about catching Nicklaus‘ 18 after winning his third at the British Open in 2014.
“I know how many majors the greats of the game have won, but I never wanted to compare myself,” said McIlroy. “At least at the end of my career there’s not going to be a disappointment — ‘Oh, I wanted to get to 15 but I only got 12.”
He added, with a tinge of smugness, “Bummer!”
Two months later, following his fourth major at the PGA, and ahead of the FedEx Cup playoffs, McIlroy was asked about his position in the game versus Phil Mickelson, then 44, and Tiger Woods, then 38.
“They are just getting older,” said McIlroy. “Phil is 43 or something and Woods is nearly 40. So they are just getting into sort of the last few holes of their careers and that’s what happens. It obviously just gets harder as you get older.
“I’ll be able to tell you in 20 years how it feels.”
Ironically, since then, Mickelson (2021 PGA) and Woods (2019 Masters) have each won another major, while McIlroy has been shutout.