Final flourish gives McIlroy reasons to be cheerful
At the start of The 145thOpen much of the discussion centred on which of the game's so-called Fab Four had the best chance of winning the Claret Jug.
In the end, however, it was more to do with who could finish highest on the leaderboard. The four – Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy – occupied the top four places in the world rankings at the beginning of the week and were expected to challenge strongly at Royal Troon.
It was not to be. In the final reckoning the championship came down to an enthralling head-to-head contest between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson, who started the today on 12 under and 11 under par respectively.
None of the four had particularly productive opening rounds and knew by Saturday evening that their chances had gone. So with Spieth on five over par, Day on one over, McIlroy on level par, and Johnson on one under, today was about finishing well.
In the end it was McIlroy, the Champion Golfer of the Year in 2014, who made most progress. He started the day tied 18th and steadily made his way through the field, his round of 67 moving him to four under par overall and tied for fifth.
“After the second day I was never going to win this golf tournament,” McIlroy said. “Look what the guys have done. There was no chance of me getting to that score. I went out there today trying to forget about the Claret Jug and to finish as high as I could. I felt I did that pretty well and can be positive going into the last major of the year.”
Dustin Johnson had a final round of 70, for a two under par total of 282, Day had a 71 for a score of 285, and Spieth had a 68 to finish on 286.
Between them McIlroy, Spieth and Day could justifiably point to the fact that they played in the worst weather over the first two days and were unable to make headway.
“We’re all here to try to do one job, and that’s win,” Day said. “Unfortunately this is the only major championship where you have to battle the elements.”