Rory McIlroy was annoyed that he didn’t make an even bigger run at Jason Dufner in the final round of the US PGA.
But despite the disappointing triple bogey that wrecked his final round charge the two-time major winner reckons his share of eighth confirms his slump is over and he can still “salvage” his season.
Insisting he’s ready now to repeat his feats of late last year and launch and mega-charge for FedEx Cup glory starting in New Jersey next week, McIlroy said: “It’s great. It gives me a lot of confidence going into these playoffs.
“I am just disappointed because I felt like had I capitalised on the way I played today I would have done much better, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
McIlroy didn’t hang around after his TV and radio interviews and made a beeline for the locker room, changed his golf shoes and bashed them on a locker door as he headed Cincinnati to watch girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki in action this week.
His irritation was understandable and a sign that his competitive spirit is alive and week. Nevertheless, it was a shame that he missed an opportunity to gave the waiting written press two minutes to ask a few questions in the flash area, thus avoiding the hassle of being being bombarded with questions in the changing room and on his way to his car and as his belongings were being packed into the boot.
No doubt he’s frustrated he’s ended 2013 without adding to his major haul but with the $10m FedEx Cup playoffs starting next week and the Race to Dubai finale still to come, he’s looking on the bright side.
Recalling how he won four times late last year to win Player of the Year awards on both sides of the pond and confirm is status as world No 1 at the time, McIlroy feels ready for a repeat.
Asked if he was experiencing the same good vibratations he felt when he left Akron after finishing fifth in last year’s Bridgesteone Invitational, he declared: “Absolutely. My game is great shape
“I’ve got four big weeks coming up and want to finish the PGA Tour season well, and I have some events in Asia, so I could still salvage a bit of the season.”
Reflecting on his closing 70 and the triple bogey seven at the fifth that killed his final round change, he said: “I saw a lot of great signs out there today.
“I made a big number on five and I hit a good shot there and did exactly what I wanted to do with it. It pitched in the exact wrong place. But everything else feels pretty good.”
McIlroy will head from Cincinnati to Liberty National to practice for The Barclays and major legend Jack Nicklaus believes he just needs to work on his swing and forget all about his off-course management bust up with Horizon Sports.
McIlroy has played poorly since making his huge move to Nike in January and is already looking after his own day to day management affairs with the help of his father and a small coterie of friends.
His equipment change has been touted as one of the reasons for his loss of form this season but 18-time major winner Nicklaus dismissed the clubs as a non-issue and urged McIlroy to concentrate on golf and let others handle the rest.
Nicklaus told Sky Sports before the final round in Rochester: “I said something to Rory at The Memorial Tournament. I said Rory, you’ve got to fix your takeaway from the ball. Rory’s takeaway he will take the club to there and then take his hands up and outside and gets the club behind him and then he is going to hit it anywhere.
“The opening tee shot that he hit in on Thursday, he took the club perfecty away from the ball, hit a perfect tee shot, played a few good holes and all of a sudden by the sixth or seventh hole I saw him go back to his old habit.
“When I saw that I said, he’s not there yet. But I think Rory is such a strong kind mentally. He has learned how to win, he has learned how to play the game and he can still win not playing his best. But I think this kid has got such an unbelievable future and he is such a nice kid. I like him a lot and he’s so polite and handles himself so well that I can’t help but root for him.”
As for his McIlroy’s off course problems this year, Nicklaus dismissed the Nike move and recalled how he had a massive financial problem in 1986 and still won the Masters.
The Golden Bear said: “I had to deal with off course problems almost all the time. If you are living life you are going to have problems.
“We all have problems, we all have things that take up our time.
“Rory shouldn’t be having to worry about those problems. He should be having that taken care of and I think his father helps him quite a bit.
“He needs to keep his mind on playing golf. He will be fine.”