Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry are hungrier than ever for the rest of this year’s majors after finishing second and third in the Masters behind Scottie Scheffler.
cIlroy brought another of his charges from the chase on the final day, but his eighth top 10 in his last 10 Masters appearances should reignite his belief that he can end his nearly eight-year wait for that elusive fifth Major win.
“I don’t think I’ve ever left this tournament happier than I did today,” McIlroy said after that spectacular holeout from clay to birdie on the 18th for an eight-under 64 and the lone bogey-free round of the week.
“I played a really good round of golf and it’s my best finish in Augusta. It’s not quite enough, but I’ll definitely look back on that day with very fond memories.
“It gives me confidence for the future, not only for the next Masters next year but also for the rest of the season.”
Should he finally go into Sunday just at the top again and complete the career Grand Slam, Sunday will be the key round in his training.
“I think just all these memories building,” added McIlroy, who not only topped the driving distance leaderboard, but was also second on the rule for Green’s hit.
“I think I’ve had some really good Sundays here from a little further back – the 66 I shot with Tiger last round in 2015 and of course today.
“I had a couple of other rounds where I wasn’t quite competitive and got good results. So I think the more I do it, the more memories I build. And if I put myself in a position closer to the lead by Sunday, I can dive into that memory bank and try to use those memories and my experience to my advantage.”
McIlroy never doubted his ability to win the Masters and that belief was reinforced on Sunday.
“I’ve always known I could do this,” he said. “I played well enough here, maybe I just didn’t string four rounds together like that, but I always knew I had the game to win here.
“It’s just about playing this game four days in a row and not making big numbers and shooting yourself in the foot I think. That was my attitude for the first few days. I certainly didn’t do that.
“I’ve played for par quite a bit, but over the course of a tournament you’re going to find a few spots where you’re going to make a birdie run and you’re trying to capitalize on some of the good golf that you and I played that today.
“But yeah, I don’t think it just prepares me for next year, it prepares me for the rest of the year. I feel like my game was pretty good without the results really showing it.
“Once in a while it’s nice to have results like this just to reassure you that you’re doing the right thing. The only person who beat me this week is the best golfer in the world, so I’m on the right track and I’m doing the right things.
“It was just nice to feel that buzz again in a big championship. It’s been a while since I’ve felt that. I think the last time I did was trying to make the cut at an open championship.
“I’m looking forward to the future and I think this day will not only benefit me for the next few years in the Masters, but also for my future career.”
While McIlroy was delighted with his 64, Lowry was a little more dejected even after fighting his way back from a tournament wreck, triple-bogey six in fourth to shoot 69 and take third place.
Without McIlroy it would have gone down as the best result by an Irishman in the Masters. But he struggled to see the silver lining and wondered what could have been after coming into the week and really imagining his chances, only to see how they stacked up with that triple bogey on the fourth evaporated.
“Obviously I did very well coming back from what happened on the fourth hole today but I’m quite disappointed to stand here because I honestly don’t think I’ve ever put myself together like that for a week have a lot,” Lowry said.
“Even when I felt like I had a bit of bad luck at the Honda Classic, all I could think about was that it doesn’t matter, Augusta is not far away and my game is good.
“It’s the first time I’ve felt like I was trying to pull myself together for the week. And to come here and live up to the standards that I’ve done is very, very… it’s nice. It is good. It’s pretty rewarding.
“I’m disappointed that someone else is going to put on the green jacket this afternoon and it won’t be me. Golf is such a fun game. A top three to start the week, makes you wonder if you’re taking it or not. Now when you stand here and come third, you feel disappointed.
“It’s hard because I want it so badly and I work so hard for it that I hope I get chances again. All I know is what it would mean for me and my family and for the people of Ireland to bring home the green jacket. and I didn’t do that today, but hopefully I can do it again.”
After starting seven behind Scottie Scheffler, closing the gap to six through three holes, he was proud to come back from his triple and play the remaining holes in five under for a final 69.
“I just said to myself it was a bad shot and there were a lot of pins in bowls and I was going to get a lot of chances,” he said after finishing the week in first place on the greens and second in putting.
“I was putting well and I just knew I was going to give my chances, so I just wanted to pull myself together and keep going.
“I will never give up. I’m never going to let myself down out there so whether I’m 10-under or 10-over I’ll try every shot and that’s what I did today and it was worth it in the end.
“Look, it’s a beautiful week and some very valuable World Ranking points, FedEx Cup points and Race to Dubai points and that’s nice.
“But I’ll wake up tomorrow and think what could have been, there’s no doubt about that.
“Obviously the best player in the world came here this week and what a form of form he is in. He put on a show. Shooting under 12 here is very, very good.”
It’s been a wonderful week for the Irish, with Séamus Power finishing 27th in his Major debut, McIlroy finishing second and Lowry knows he’ll see things differently when he arrives at the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head this week.
“I’m going to sit down with the boys tonight and talk about it, but I’m going to Hilton Head next week to try and win the tournament and that’s only four days away.
“I haven’t won in a couple of years and I don’t enjoy not winning. I just love competing and winning tournaments.
“As I said to Bo, who is 18, I just love playing big tournaments. It gets me going so much and there’s another big, big one in a couple of weeks, so hopefully I can keep my form and try it up there in[the US PGA in]Oklahoma.”
While McIlroy is now seventh in the world with Lowry 30th and Power 40th and up to 29th in the Race to Dubai, Ireland could have three men on the 2023 Ryder Cup team.
Speaking of Ireland’s incredible form in the Majors since 2007, he said: “Seamus will probably take the brunt of it because people will be wondering when he’s going to win one now.
“Look, great to have four Irish here this week. Paddy was unlucky to miss the cut. Seamus had to play the weekend. I would say he learned a lot. Weekend golf out here is very different from practice rounds Rory second and third. Yeah, it’s pretty nice for Irish golf.”
Referring to Power, who is part of the Ryder Cup squad, he said: “Obviously that’s his goal.
Lowry came close to declaring that one day he will win the Masters, but he knows he has to win the game.
“You just don’t know,” he said to a colleague who was supposed to play Augusta today. “I hope to come here next year in the form I was in this year and I may try again, but it won’t be because I didn’t try.
“Obviously this is my first weekend out there in the heat and as I said I felt very comfortable.”
He jokingly added: “You’ll see how it is tomorrow. As long as you don’t triple the fourth, you’re fine.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/golf/us-masters/it-gives-me-confidence-going-forward-rory-mcilroy-and-shane-lowry-hungry-for-major-glory-after-spectacular-masters-41540767.html “It gives me confidence for the future” – Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry starve for Major glory after the spectacular Masters