Seven times prior to the Augusta National, McIlroy attempted to complete his Grand Slam career by winning a green jacket. Seven times he failed to become the sixth man to do so during the Era of Masters.
McIlroy didn’t do it again on Sunday, but this time I barely felt defeated.
After starting Sunday with ten shots behind leader Scotty Scheffler, McIlroy netted the lowest score ever in the final round at the Masters with eight under 64. Jordan Spieth was last in 2018. McIlroy’s stealth-free run on Sunday was the only one in the championship.
McIlroy finished second in the 7-under after a 72-hole, 3-shot back-hand from a Scheffler. It was McIlroy’s best result at Augusta National.
“That’s what you dream about, isn’t it?” McIlroy said. “You dream about putting yourself in the center. I wasn’t close enough to the lead. Scotty plays really well. To play like I did today and then finish like this, I mean, it’s totally unbelievable.”
On the 4-18, McIlroy hit a tee in a bunker in Fairway. Then he hit his second shot in a bunker on the green side on the right. Jump high over the hole and watch his ball fall on the green and fall into the hole.
McIlroy dropped his wedge into the sand, raised his arms above his head and hugged the pack, Harry Diamond, after climbing out of the bunker. His play partner, Colin Morikawa, hid from the same basement a few moments later.
“This tournament never ceases to amaze,” McIlroy said. “Yeah, that’s as happy as I’ve ever been on the golf course there. Just had the chance, and then with Colin, we played really well all day, and we both finished like that, I was just so happy for him too. It was unbelievable.” I’ve never heard a roar like that on the eighteenth green. It was really cool.”
It wasn’t always a happy ending for McIlroy at Augusta National. In 2011, as the 21-year-old was trying to win his first major championship, the Northern Irish had a four-shot lead in the final round. His lead was reduced to one shot in the second nine. He rode in the cabins and made a triple bogey at #10, three times for a bogey at 11 and four times for a bogey at 12. for 15.
The day after the devastating crash, McIlroy retweeted a joke about homes already in Augusta National. He recovered to become one of the best players in the world, winning the US Open later that same year, the PGA Championship in 2012 and 2014 and The Open in 2014.
He has been trying to complete his Grand Slam career ever since. Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Jane Sarrazin are the only players who have done so.
McIlroy has now finished in the top ten of the Masters six times since completing three Grand Slam quarters. In 2018, McIlroy was in the last group on Sunday and was behind Patrick Reed by three shots. McIlroy fired 2-over 74 and tied for fifth, 6 shots behind Reed.
This time I felt different. Apparently he conquered the legendary golf course that has been haunting him since that fateful Sunday in 2011.
“I’ve always known I can do it,” McIlroy said. “I’ve played well enough here, I may not have been in four rounds together like that, but I always knew I had the match to win at this place. It’s just a matter of playing that match four days in a row and not making big numbers and shooting On your foot, I guess. That was my attitude the first couple of days. I definitely didn’t. I played for pars a lot, but during the championship period you’ll find some places where you go for a flying race, and you try to take advantage of some good golf that you play, And I did that today.”
McIlroy, 32, opened his run with the sparrows on two of the first three holes. He nearly led the green in the 4th turn, 350 yards third and made 4 feet. He made two long shots out of the green—30 feet in the seventh and 39 feet in the tenth. On 5/13, McIlroy hit his second shot from 203 yards to 10 feet and made an eagle.
“It’s probably going to be a little short, but I gave it a great boost, and I can’t ask myself more than that,” McIlroy said. “I went there today, scored my best result in Augusta, and it will be my best result ever. Maybe not good enough, but I’ll be back next year and keep trying.”