By Micil Glennon
Rory McIlroy was left to lament a painful moving-day score of 79 as he saw his chance to claim a third major title slip away in Augusta.
The Irish golfer completed the first two rounds of the Masters with a score of two under par but a third-round 79 ended his green jacket hopes for another year.
The 23-year-old’s best round came on the final day when he posted a 69 to finish on two over (tied for 25th place) but it was too late to make an impression on the leaderboard, where play-off winner Adam Scott carded a score of nine under par.
McIlroy told RTÉ Sport: “You take [the first ten holes in round three] away and I’m right there, I’m in contention. If I didn’t play that stretch of holes like that I’d be a few under par and I’d be right in the mix.
“Something like the 15th hole yesterday – you hit the ball up ten yards on the green and all of a sudden it comes back into the water, when you think you’ve played a good shot."
"If I didn't play that stretch of holes like that I'd be a few under par and I'd be right in the mix"
The Holywood star also dismissed any suggestion that his new clubs had any part to play in his indifferent early-season form and said that he has learned lessons for next year.
“It’s the little nuances of this golf course,” he said. “It’s a tough one but I’m learning each and every year and hopefully I’ll come back with a little more experience next year.
“It’s the same thing every year – don’t short-side yourself, don’t take on too much when you know you can’t and that’s the game plan that I came in with this week. It just didn’t pay off.
“It’s a frustrating golf course at times, put it that way. Even [in round four] I hit some good shots into the pins.
"Instead of going ten feet away it rolls off the green and stuff like that. It’s just the way Augusta is and you have to embrace it and accept that what it’s going to be like sometimes.
“I’m on the right track going forward. I’m comfortable with my golf game. The equipment hasn’t been an issue all year, it was more just me. I’m happy where I’m heading. I’ve got a few really good events coming up, I’m looking forward to those.
“I hit the ball a little better today for sure. I didn’t feel like I played too differently than I did yesterday. The margins here are so small. If you get on the wrong side it can punish you very harshly.
“I’m looking forward to the next few weeks, I’m playing well,” he added.