From Brian Keogh in New York
Rory McIlroy knows he can win a big one some day after clinching his first top 10 in a major on his US Open debut at Bethpage Black.
In only his second major start as a professional, the 20-year old Holywood hotshot fired a 2-under par 68 in the weather-delayed final round to finish in a six way tie for 10th with the likes of Sergio Garcia and Mike Weir on 2-over par.
“It’s been a great tournament and a great experience for my first US Open and I would love to come back and win it one day,” said McIlroy, whose 68 was only bettered by Ian Poulter’s three under 67 in the final round.
“It’s been a long week but I feel like I have done very well. I have made a great start to my Majors career – 20th in the Masters and now a top 10 here. It’s been a good start.
“I feel I have the game to compete in Majors and these results have given me a lot of confidence.
“It has been a very solid week. I shot 72-70 for the first two rounds when the guys were going low but I knew that if I stayed patient that level par would be a very good result.
"That's what I was trying today, which didn't quite happen but it was a really solid week and I can take a lot from it.”
Graeme McDowell had a nightmare on the greens as he racked up three three-putts in a closing 74. But that was still good enough to give him his second successive top-20 in a major as he shared 18th place on four over par.
McDowell got to within six shots of the lead at one stage but took 35 putts on inconsistent greens and dropped six shots in eight holes from the eighth before finishing with a birdie.
Frustrated that his game wasn't quite there but still happy with his progress as a major contender, he said: "I certainly wasn’t expecting to see the leaderboard I saw with four holes to go. Missed chance maybe but I still had to shoot 66 to win and didn’t get the ball in the hole the first nine holes.
“I’ve learned that I can hang in there on a big long golf course in a major championship without having my best swing with me.
“My iron play was great this week, but my driving of the golf ball and my fairway wood play was not even close to how I can play. I have got a bit of work to do on my technique and swing."
McIlroy had started his final round off the 10th on Sunday night and played 11 holes behind the leading group of eventual champion Lucas Glover and joint runner up Ricky Barnes.
Already two under for his final round, he picked up another shot at the par-five fourth and saved a great par at the sixth before his charge ended with a bogey at the next.
Hoping it won’t be long until he is battling at the right end of the draw for his first major, McIlroy added: “Obviously it would be a little different if I was in the final group in the lead but hopefully I can get that experience and it is a case now of trying to get that position soon.
"I know that my game can handle it. I had a great last round in Augusta – six under for the last ten holes there and then a 68 here.”
Before jetting out of New York for this week’s BMW International in Munich, McIlroy confessed that the Open at Turnberry is major goal for him this season
But he was satisfied that he could not have done any more in a stop-start week that was made all the more memorable by a beer-sozzled New York fan.
Asked for his best anecdote of the week, McIlroy said: “We were on the tenth tee on Saturday evening, me and Anthony Kim. The crowd are all roaring and shouting. Kim hits his tee shot then they announce me.
“They start chanting ‘Rory-Rory-Rory-Rory’ so I can’t tee off for about five minutes.
“While I am waiting I see this guy out the right corner of my eye. He walks about five yards, throws up because he has had so much to drink and then he runs back to the rope and starts shouting again! Now that is a loyal supporter!”
From Brian Keogh in New York