Major miss has made me stronger says McIlroy

Rory McIlroy insists he will draw strength from his US PGA disappointment and become a major winner soon.

The Holywood star, 21, came within inches of a dramatic final hole birdie that would have seen him force his way into the three-hole play-off between eventual champion Martin Kaymer and big hitting American Bubba Watson.

But while he missed the putt, the world No 8 reckons his future looks bright after grabbing his third share of third place from his last five major starts.

All set for a sailing holiday with his mates in the Mediterranean this week, McIlroy said: “I think what happened will make me stronger. It would have been a lot better if I had gone on to win, but I’m sure I’ll look back on this week, take the positives from it and move on.

“I feel within myself that I am ready to win a major because it was a tough day and I felt I handled myself well.

“I only finished one shot outside the play-off and if a putt here or there could have dropped, who knows what might have happened.

“At the end of the day I feel within myself that I am ready to win a major.”

Set for the FedEx Cup play-offs in two weeks, he added: “I will move on, have a week off now and go into the play-offs in good spirits and hopefully give that a good run.

“It was a good learning week for me and one I can take the positives from.”

Many will point to the string of birdie putts that McIlroy missed on the back nine and the three-putt bogey at the 15th that ultimately cost him the title.

Yet while he failed to hole the putts when it mattered, McIlroy is proud that he dug deep when things weren’t going his way and stayed in the hunt to the death.

He said: “I was proud that I hung in there. I didn’t hit it well and it wasn’t the start I wanted but I made a great up and down on the first, a great up and down at the third and really held it together on the front nine.

“The only thing thinking back was that putt on 15. I actually read it straight and it went left to right. Just one of those things. I was always hanging around, just waiting for that one putt to drop here or there.

“It’s the first time I have been in contention in the last round of a major and going out in the second last group.

“I was feeling it on the first tee and it was a new experience for me and today will stand me in good stead in the future.”

McIlroy struggled early in his final round, sandwiching a birdie at the seventh between missed par putts at the fourth and eighth.

He birdied the 10th from 12 feet but when he badly needed a putt to drop, he failed with similar chances at the 11th, 12th and 13th.

A birdie at 14th saw him briefly grab a share of the lead on 11 under par but he missed a four footer for par at the 15th, failed to take advantage of the par-five 16th and narrowly missed chances on the last two holes.

Looking on the bright side, he said: “I stayed very patient and didn’t let anything get to me or my head drop once which was one of the main objectives going out today.

“I was very happy with the way I dealt with the start. I was shaky but I didn’t let it get to me and I saved pars.”

He added: “It was a good week and I’ll take the positives from it.  It wasn’t the result that I wanted going into today, but it’s a learning experience and hopefully one that I can establish myself for the next majors.”

McIlroy closed with his worst round of the week, a level par 72.

But it was an even tougher day for overnight leader Nick Watney, who crashed to 18th after a nightmare 81, or Dustin Johnson, who missed the play-off by two shots after being handed a two-stroke penalty for grounding his putter in a bunker at the last.

Joint third in the US PGA at Hazeltine last year, McIlroy missed the cut in the Masters and the US Open before opening with that incredible 63 in the Open at St Andrews.

He took 80 in Friday’s high winds to crash down the leaderboard but bounced back with sub-70 rounds at the weekend to tie for third.

Massively ambitious, he said: “I have put myself in position the last couple of majors, finished third at St Andrews and I will be top five here. It is not a bad week but I would have liked a little bit better.”

US PGA champion Kaymer hailed golf’s new generation of stars but he does not believe that McIlroy be inspired by his win at Whistling Straits.

Kaymer said: “It think seeing Graeme McDowell win the US Open already inspired Rory for the majors.

“I know that seeing Graeme win at Pebble Beach certainly inspired me this week.”