Rory McIlroy’s disenchantment with his season came to the fore on Sunday when not even a top 10 finish at the final major could quell his anger at another missed opportunity.
The 24-year-old Ulsterman surrendered his USPGA crown to Jason Duffner at Oak Hill, but at least he offered himself some hope for the FedEx challenge to come with a tied eighth finish and a final round 70, seven off the pace.
Or so you would think. The world number three spoke briefly with reporters after his final round, then headed to the changing room where he tossed his spikes against a locker in sheer frustration.
When he did speak to a handful of Irish reporters, before heading to Cincinnati to watch girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki in action, McIlroy was clearly still angry according to reports.
But at least he saw some signs for comfort ahead of the Fed-Ex challenge which begins in New Jersey.
“I saw a lot of great signs out there and hopefully I can bring that through to the next few weeks and have a strong finish to the season,” he 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 capitalized on the way I played today I would have done much better, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
“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.”
McIlroy’s hopes of defending his title effectively disappeared early in Sunday’s round with a triple-bogey seven on the fifth.
He said later, “I played the best golf of the week today. I hit some really good drives and really good iron shots. Didn’t quite putt as well as I did the first three days, but really, really happy with my game going into the next few weeks.
“It’s a very big step in the right direction. I saw a lot of great signs out there today. Hopefully I can just bring that through to the next few weeks and have a strong finish to the season.”
As he prepares for the Barclays championship, McIlroy received some sound advice from mentor and golf legend Jack Nicklaus.
The Golden Bear told McIlroy to forget about his split from management company Horizon and his problems with his Nike clubs and just concentrate on his golf.
Nicklaus said, “I spoke to Rory at the Memorial tournament and told him, ‘Rory, you’ve got to fix your takeaway from the ball.’
“I saw signs on Saturday that he’s not there yet. But I think Rory is such a strong kid mentally. He has learned how to win, he has learned how to play the game and he can still win not playing his best. This kid has got such an unbelievable future and I can’t help but root for him.
“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.”