Augusta - Rory McIlroy came up empty again in his bid to
complete a career Grand Slam at the Masters, but the Northern Ireland star
insists he has the game to win at Augusta National.
"I think 100 percent I can come back and win
here," McIlroy said after fading to a 2-over par 74 and a tie for fifth
behind first-time major winner Patrick Reed.
"I've played in two final groups in the last seven
years, I've had five top-10s, I play this golf course well," McIlroy said.
"I just haven't played it well enough at the right times."
McIlroy trailed Reed by three going into the final round,
and their final pairing was expected to produce the kind of fireworks seen in
Reed's 1-up Ryder Cup victory over McIlroy at Hazeltine two years ago.
Instead, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler surged from the
chasing pack to threaten. It was world number 24 Reed who stood firm, wresting
a 1-under 71 from Augusta National as McIlroy let chances go begging.
"I feel like momentum is a huge thing, especially in
final rounds," McIlroy said. "You look at what Jordan and Rickie did.
They got on a roll and I just didn't.
"Patrick and I didn't. We were in and around even pare
and were just grinding out there ... he just hung in there a little better than
I did and got the job done."
An opening tee shot that skidded right proved to be an omen,
even though McIlroy managed to salvage a par as Reed made a bogey.
A birdie at the par-5 second saw McIlroy edge even closer,
but he could never build momentum as that marked the start of a birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey
"It was like every time I took a step forward I took a
step back on the next hole," McIlroy said. "I'd say three and five
are the ones that I'd look back on and if I could have made pars there it could
have been a different story."
It wasn't the horror show of 2011, when McIlroy took a
four-shot lead into the final round and carded an 80.
Since then he has won four majors but never a Masters,
unable to join Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene
Sarazen as the only players with at least one win in each of the four major
McIlroy, who made 100 percent of his putts from within seven
feet over the first three rounds, couldn't get the putts to drop on Sunday.
A bogey at the par-5 eighth, where he missed the fairway
right, laid up and then missed the green with his third shot, dropped him into
a tie for second and he was never really a factor over a back nine that
included two more bogeys and a birdie.
"The putter let me down a little bit," McIlroy
said. "I just wasn't quite as trusting as I was the first few days and
that made a big difference.
"I was trying to hit good shots and good putts and any
time I felt like I hit a good shot I got myself on the wrong side of the pin or
gave myself a tricky one down the hill.
"When I did get some chances I didn't take advantage of
them. It was a tough day."