From nowhere, Rory McIlroy threatened to post a competitive total in the final round of the Travelers Championship in Connecticut. But his challenge found a watery grave on the 17th and the world No 1 was forced to be content with a 13-under 67.
The double bogey added to the two bogeys in the first five holes to ruin what could have been a low and historic round for the Northern Irishman.
Nobody had ever made up an eight-shot deficit on a Sunday at the Hartford golf club before and, in truth, those early dropped shots were always destined to leave him short, despite his heroics from the sixth to the 16th.
McIlroy played those 11 holes in six under, with a wedge from 122 yards to two feet on the seventh, a 35ft eagle on the 13th and a holed bunker shot on the par-three 16th. The adrenalin was pumping a little at that point.
Trying to extract as much from the round as possible, McIlroy went for the green from a fairway bunker on the penultimate hole, but hit it too fat and landed in the lake. Some might criticise McIlroy for a poor decision and point to a wider trend with this being his fourth waterfall of the week.
However, he was essentially aiming for the silverware in Connecticut and credit to the 31-year-old for not simply playing safe and targeting a top-five finish. McIlroy already has quite enough of those in his locker.
He will now take a week off before returning in Ohio for back-to-back events at Muirfield Village as he builds for the first major of the year, the US PGA at Harding Park, San Francisco, at the start of August. McIlroy has played the last three weeks since the PGA Tour resumed after the lockdown was lifted and knows why he has failed further to furnish his CV in this time.
"It's all been a little erratic," said McIlroy. "The good stuff is in there, but obviously there's a bit of bad, too. I'm just putting it down to having those few months off and not finding my rhythm yet. It'll be nice to have a week off before going up to Columbus for a couple weeks."
Up ahead, Dustin Johnson led by two shots with three to play from Kevin Streelman before the threat of lightning forced play to be suspended. Further down the field, Paul Casey enjoyed a satisfactory return with a 10-under total following a 68, whilst countrymen Ian Poulter and Luke Donald shot a 69 and horrendous 79 for two under and six over respectively.
Donald is scheduled to appear at this week's Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, but that field will not be anywhere near as strong as those which have graced the Tour's comeback these last few weeks.
Webb Simpson, the recent winner of the RBC Heritage, will be in attendance as the best-ranked player, despite having been one of eight to withdraw from Hartford because of coronavirus. Simpson's daughter tested positive and he believed he would be forced to quarantine for up to a fortnight. But the family were retested and all came back negative. (© Daily Telegraph, London)