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Rory McIlroy shoots 64 in final round as Koepka wins Phoenix Open

McIlroy finished the tournament six shots behind winner Koepka.

McIlroy at the 12th in Phoenix.
McIlroy at the 12th in Phoenix.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

Updated Feb 7th 2021, 10:50 PM

RORY MCILROY FOUND form again today as he so often does when the pressure is off and the world is watching someone else.

The Ulsterman was terrific, recording nine birdies in a seven-under par round of 64. It was good enough to give him a share of 13th place, six shots adrift of winner, Brooks Koepka, who closed out the tournament in style, posting a hat-trick of birdies and then an eagle in the closing six holes.

The American won by one shot from Korea’s Kyoung-Hoon Lee and Xander Schauffele with three players, Carlos Ortiz, Jordan Spieth and Steve Stricker tied for fourth on 17-under.

McIlroy produced a superb round. Some of his shots were truly incredible, such as the second to the par five third, a 574-yard hole, that he made light of, sending a long iron to the back of the green, giving him a shot at eagle.

He was inches away from making that but the arrival of a birdie gave him the confidence to then go and hit a remarkable tee shot into the fourth, a par three, with the pin positioned in the worst possible place. Well, not as far as McIlroy was concerned.

His approach left him six feet from the hole. His putt was perfect. He was on a roll.

A bogey on the fifth threatened to end his momentum but by the time he had reached the eighth he had got that shot back after a birdie on the sixth.

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Another birdie came on 8 and while a bogey on 11 threatened to curtail his enthusiasm, his final five holes were played out in four under par.

The best came at the last. He found the bunker, 97-yards from the green, and then chipped wonderfully to six feet, spinning the ball back to make it an easier putt.

Yet the Ulsterman was frustrated with his week’s work.

He said: “It’s been disappointing. “I had two very pedestrian runs, but I played a little better on Friday and then I played better today.

“I putted better, and I really struggled on these greens to read them more than anything else. With greens that I haven’t seen before, I used the green book a bit and I did that for three days and didn’t really work, so I just sort of went with my eyes and my gut today and it helped.

“I maybe trusted it a little better and holed some putts, which was nice. I hit some putts on the practice green with the mirror, and then I actually used the line on the ball for the first time in a while, and then I used the line on the ball out there today.

“So it was just more of a trust thing. Once you put the line down on the ball you’re committed to, Okay, this is where I’m going to start it. Just that a little bit of extra trust helped.”

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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