Rory McIlroy upbeat despite a return of Sunday struggles in Hawaii
It was a case of de ja vu for Rory McIlroy as a final round falter hampered his chances of success at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Throughout 2018, McIlroy played his way into the final group on six occasions and six times he failed to win.
After one tournament of 2019, it's zero for one in terms of final groups converted to Ws.
Having begun the day three behind playing partner Gary Woodland, McIlroy shot a disappointing one-under-par 72 to finish tied for fourth. The Northern Irishman hit two birdies and a bogey, ending on 15 under overall alongside Dustin Johnson and Marc Leishman.
Spare a thought for Woodland, who shot a five-under 68 and would surely have thought that would be enough.
It would have been, but for the astounding 11-under 62 carded by Xander Schauffele to win by a single shot, Woodland's failure to birdie the par-five 18th proving decisive.
Afterwards, McIlroy was adamant that his display wasn't quite a repeat of his 2018 struggles to top the leaderboard.
"My attitude was much better today, I didn't press at all, I was very patient, it's just something I'm going to have to persist in, just keep putting myself in these positions and honestly, I don't think anyone could have beaten Xander today,” he said.
“Obviously I could have shot a better score, but I did what I wanted to do. I gave myself plenty of chances, I hit most of the fairways, I hit most of the greens, just couldn't get the ball to drop.”
McIlroy's putting problems were well documented in 2018. In the first three rounds in Hawaii, improvement was evident but Sunday struggles returned as he ranked 27th in strokes gained putting, making a combined total of 31-feet of putts in the final round.
“Anything that was right-to-left I missed on the high side and anything left-to-right I missed on the low side. So Just one of those days where it just didn't happen,” he said.
“I'm going to go home and sort of reflect on this week and reflect on what was good and what maybe wasn't so good and work on a few things and come back out and having learned a little more about my game than I knew coming into this week.”
Justin Thomas finished the week in third following nine birdies in his final round.
Meanwhile, world number one Brooks Koepka shot his best round of the tournament, carding a four-under 69, but languished in 24th place.
Ian Poulter dropped to 18th place after firing a 71, while fellow Englishman Paul Casey shot the same to end in joint 16th.
Belfast Telegraph Digital