Rory McIlroy: My game is nowhere near where I want it to be

Rory McIlroy© AP

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy admits he’s “nowhere near” where he needs to be with his game but insists Brooks Koepka beating him to a fifth Major win in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill is not giving him extra motivation to end his near nine-year Major drought.

McIlroy finished tied for seventh after a closing 69, but he confessed it was a flattering result on paper and does not show how far he still has to go to claim that elusive fifth Major.

“I took a few good steps, and you know, there was some disappointing in there as well,” McIlroy (right) said after finishing seven shots behind the impressive Koepka, who never lost his overnight lead and ended up winning by two strokes from new World No 1 Scottie Scheffler and Viktor Hovland on nine-under par.

“I just need to be better. I need to clean it up. I got off to the perfect start today (with a birdie), and then I dump a wedge right of the green on two where you can’t miss it and make bogey.

“I just feel even when I do the right things, I’m sort of taking one step forward, and then right at the next hole, I’m taking one step back. So I need to try to iron that out of my game a little bit.”

After the disappointment of his missed cut at the Masters, McIlroy showed tremendous grit to get himself to the fringes of contention heading into the weekend with a game that was far from his imperious best. But he knows he’s got some way to go over the next month if he’s to be ready to beat the likes of Koepka, Scheffler, Hovland and Jon Rahm in the US Open at Los Angeles Country Club.

“I think the finish maybe glosses over some of the cracks in my game,” he said, taking little solace from his finishing position.

“You look at a T7, and you’re like, oh, you know, you had a good week. But then, when you dig into it . . . it maybe makes the week look a little better than it was.

“So I know I need to work on things, and I’m nowhere near as close as I want to be in my game and in terms of where I think my abilities are. And it’s just a matter of trying to get it right and work harder and just try to be better.”

Koepka has won nine times on the PGA Tour but five of those victories are Majors, and after coming back from what looked like semi-retirement with LIV Golf to finish second in the Masters and then win in such style at Oak Hill, he’s stolen a march on McIlroy in the Major stakes.

If he feels any extra motivation now to get that fifth Major and respond to Koepka, the Co Down man would not admit it on Sunday.

“Not really,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it gives me any extra motivation. I mean, I’m happy for Brooks. Considering what he’s been through and the injuries and last year, for him to come back the way he has and obviously compete at Augusta and then come here and play so well, I mean, it’s amazing.

“The way he can turn it on in these Major championships is very, very impressive. So, I’m really happy for Brooks; he’s a good guy. I see him down there (in Jupiter) a lot. Regardless of the LIV thing or anything else, he’s a fantastic competitor and an unbelievable golfer.”

Pádraig Harrington finished with a 69 to tie for 50th alongside Rahm on seven-over. But

he’s fascinated by the Koepka’s ability to play well in Majors.

“I think he loves the tougher, bigger occasions,” Harrington said. “He likes the fact other people are under pressure here, and I don’t think he likes that at regular events. He seems to have a good attitude at these events, and he’s got a good, solid game for Majors.”

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods – as expected – has withdrawn from next month’s US Open at Los Angeles Country Club. The 47-year-old had a subtalar fusion procedure after the Masters to address a problem caused by a previous fracture of a bone in the ankle joint.