Majors next for McIlroy and McDowell

Rory McIlroy has set his sights on major wins after his incredible third place finish in the US PGA.

But the Ulster kid will have to watch out for pal Graeme McDowell after Ireland got three players in the top 10 in a major for the first time.

McIlroy matched champion YE Yang with the best round of the day - a 70 - to pocket €303,573.

Up to third in the Race to Dubai and now 22nd in the world, he reckons the sky's the limit now, insisting: “I have a lot to build on. I have a lot of momentum going into the majors next year.

“This is only my first year in the majors and I have learned a few things on my way this year. That should help me next year to build on this and hopefully get in a couple better finishes than just the Top-10 or Top-5.

“This is my first year in all four majors and my results have been pretty good. So I'm looking to build on these results next year and hopefully try to do a bit better."

McIlroy only made his major championship debut two years ago, finishing tied for 42nd as an amateur in the 2007 Open at Carnoustie.

He failed to qualify for any of the majors last year but his incredible finish to the 2008 campaign and this year’s breakthrough victory in Dubai cemented his place in the world’s top 50 and a trip to all four of top of golf’s top events this term.

He came out swinging in the Masters, finishing tied 20th at Augusta thanks to a sensational 31 on the back nine on Sunday.

In the US Open at Bethpage Black he shared 10th place without breaking sweat and while he was disappointed that he failed to cope with the wind and finished joint 47th in the Open, he surprised himself in Minnesota.

Struggling with his game before the start, he still made more birdies than Tiger Woods and Yang - 17 - and can look to his putting for improvement.

He said: “Considering I only made five birdies last week at Akron, it's been a bit of a difference. The long course suited me.

"It's been a great week for me and I'm looking forward to getting home and I have a couple weeks off and reflect on the four majors that I’ve played this year. I feel very pleased with the way I played them.

"Coming into this week, I didn't have my best form or my best game with me and to finish tied third is a great result for me for the last major of the year. I'm just very satisfied with the way I've played all week.”

Take the first hole out of the equation and McIlroy could be heading back to Holywood with the Wanamaker Trophy.

He bogeyed it three days in a row and then doubled it on Sunday before storming back. That’s five shots lost and he was five behind champion Yang at the end.

Set to return to join McDowell for the start of the Ryder Cup qualifying campaign in Switzerland in two weeks, McIlroy believes he learned some valuable lessons in his fifth major start.

He said: “I've been very patient. I didn't get flustered when I made a six at the first. I knew that I had a few chances on the front nine to get it back, and I had four birdies after that on the front nine to turn at two-under.

“To shoot level par on that back nine with this wind, I felt was a really good effort.”

McDowell tied for 10th to move up to 45th in the world and like McIlroy,he reckons he can push on and win a major in the future.

He said: “I've learned how to attack these things now. They are different from regular events and you have to work out how to prepare yourself physically and your game.

“I've really enjoyed my four majors this year. They have been a lot of fun. I put myself in position a few times and I can build on this and look forward to next year and try and win one.

“I haven't been on my A game, especially this week. I haven't played my best golf this season at all. My full swing hasn't been there. My short game can still improve all the time.

“I just haven't seemed to come to these events really firing on all cylinders, so it has not been the best year from a full-swing point of view.

“I've got to keep chipping away at that and try to get myself in better form; but to compete when I'm not playing my best, that's very satisfying."