Rory McIlroy's bid to complete career Grand Slam with Masters win put on hold for yet another year

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Rory McIlroy’s bid to complete a career Grand Slam will have to wait yet another year after the world’s second-ranked golfer failed to make a leap up the leaderboard on Saturday at the Masters.

McIlroy shot 71, which was solid, but not nearly enough to climb into contention ahead of the final round.

“All I can do is come here and try my best,” McIlroy said with a shrug of his shoulders. “That’s what I do every time I show up. Some years it’s better than others. I’ve just got to keep showing up and try to do the right thing.”

The right thing has been elusive at Augusta National for the 34-year-old McIlroy, particularly this week.

He is 3-over 219 for the tournament.

The Northern Ireland phenom won the U.S. Open in 2011, the first of two PGA championships in 2012 and the British Open in 2024 to put him on the brink of joining greats Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods as the only players to complete the modern Grand Slam.

At 26, it seemed a forgone conclusion it would happen.

And yet here we are nearly 10 later and McIlroy is still searching for the magic formula to solve Augusta National.

He’s been close.

He once shot an opening round 65 at Augusta National, only to fade on the final day. He was the runner-up in 2022 after a final round 64.

The problem has been putting together four great rounds.

His 77 on Friday proved to be his undoing this week.

Still, McIlroy harbored some thoughts of making a run on moving day at the Masters and getting into the mix if he could get hot early. But any early momentum was shunted from he pushed his tee shot on No. 1 into a fairway bunker and missed a 5-foot par putt.

He would rebound to make three birdies and one bogey the rest of the way, and admitted afterward it was hard to complain about his score.

Of course, he wanted more. The shots just didn’t come.

But it wasn’t as though McIlroy didn’t have his moments on Saturday.

One of those came when he blasted a wind-aided tee shot 380 yards on No. 9 that ran through the pedestrian crosswalk before slowly rolling back down the hill, shortening the overall distance.

But he missed far too many greens and didn’t sink nearly enough putts.

“I just needed to get some rhythm (on Friday),” McIlroy said. “It was so start/stop and I didn’t have any fluid in my golf swing because of that. As the wind is coming down you start getting out of sync. It was better to make some normal golf swings and hit some normal shots.”

“So it was nice to see some red numbers on the card today,” he added.

Things could be worse.

McIlroy missed the cut at the Masters altogether in 2021 and 2023.

When he leaves here Sunday he plans to turn his attention to Hilton Head as he continues to look to fix some issues with his iron play that prompted him to spend time with swing coach Butch Harmon in the weeks leading up to the Masters.

McIlroy said the week has tested his patience, especially given the windy conditions and the tough pin placements.

But he’s not dwelling on that now.

“Shoot a good round of golf and move on,” he said.

Of course, he knows when he returns to Augusta National next April he’ll have to answer those same irritating questions about when — or if — he will win the Masters and complete the career Grand Slam.


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