Rory McIlroy left Augusta with his highest ever Masters finish but haunted by what might have been as Bubba Watson celebrated a second Green Jacket success.

McIlroy finished tied eighth after a fourth round 69 offered a glimpse of his Augusta potential.

His previous best finish was tied 15th but McIlroy, who collapsed when leading by four on the Sunday in 2011, knows he can do better on the tricky Georgia course.

He said: “I’ve always enjoyed coming back here. I love the golf course. I love playing it and I know I can do well here. It’s just a matter of making the most of my chances because I gave myself plenty of chances here this week.

“If I had converted a few more and played the par-fives better, it could have been a different story.”

After finishing in the top 10 in the Masters for the first time, McIlroy was left to rue a 77 on Friday that ruled him out of contention and almost saw him miss the cut.

But he remains confident that he will get to wear the green jacket one day.

McIlroy added: “I’m really comfortable on the tees. I’m really comfortable with the second shots. I’m comfortable on the golf course.

“I figured out something in my putting today on the sixth hole and then I putted a little better after that.

“But it’s been a frustrating week, because I felt like from tee-to-green I played as good as the leaders.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played as good tee-to-green around this course as I have this week. Above par is very comfortable, I just need to take some more chances that I’ve given myself on the greens.”

Looking to the future he said: “I feel more comfortable here. I feel like I can go out and play my game and hit the shots. I’m definitely not as tentative around this place as I used to be.

“I’m becoming a lot more aggressive and hitting iron shots closer. And I think that’s a good thing because I just feel more comfortable on the golf course. I’m not as scared with some of the trouble, runoffs. Because you know what to expect.

“I finished even par on the par fives this week and even for the tournament and that’s not good enough. You are looking to play them in 10 under and that would be good enough to win.

“I will come back next year, try to putt a little better and play the par fives better and you never know.”

Fellow Ulsterman Darren Clarke was also cursing his luck after a closing 76 at Augusta National left him tied for 44th on nine over par.

Clarke said: “It’s Augusta National and a privilege to be here, one of the best golf courses in the world, but it is frustrating at times.

“I played quite nicely today, hit a lot of really good shots and just had one of those Augusta days where I got a gust at the wrong time or a bad bounce.

“The bad shots got punished and a lot of the good ones pitched on the wrong side of a little hump - but that’s Augusta.

“Augusta means you are always on a knife edge because you don’t know what bound or what side of a little slope you are going to get and if you get on the wrong side you are going to struggle and that’s what I did today.

“I was obviously hoping for a little bit better. But all in all over the four rounds it wasn’t bad on a course that’s getting tougher and tougher.

“I saw massive signs of improvement. I will just keep doing what I am doing because it is obviously right.”