Rory McIlroy‘s hopes of another Irish Open title were extinguished on Sunday, with the four-time Major winner finding water four times during a dramatic final round as Sweden’s Vincent Norrman shot a closing 65 to win by one shot.
World No.2 McIlroy had a share of the lead on 13-under, but found water at the seventh with his approach. He then did the same again on the 11th before making a triple bogey at the 16th as he chased a big finish to catch clubhouse leader Norrman.
McIlroy’s closing 2-over 74 at The K Club dropped him down to 16th, five shots back of winner Norrman, who recorded his second DP World Tour victory. Irish compatriot and analyst Paul McGinley admitted McIlroy’s error-strewn display suggested the European Ryder Cup stalwart was low on confidence with his game and had even perhaps got into bad habits following a recent back injury.
McIlroy’s first visit into the drink on Sunday occurred at the par-4 seventh hole when he was tied for the lead at 13-under, before his 9-iron from 158 yards out was a little heavy, hit some rocks and ended up in the water.
McIlroy double-bogeyed the hole and followed with three straight pars before the second trip into the water at the par-4 11th hole, this time from 136 yards out. McIlroy pulled a wedge left into the water en-route to a bogey.
That effectively left McIlroy’s title bid in tatters as Norrman finished at 14 under, which would eventually secure a one-shot victory over Hurly Long. But McIlroy still tried to chase down the leader as he went for the par 5 16th in two, before he carved his 260-yard fairway wood into the water and hit his nine-iron from 160 yards into the hazard.
McIlroy , who won the Irish Open in 2016, eagled the 16th in Friday’s second round when he holed a 120-yard shot, but this time the par five bit back at him as he needed to hole a 20-footer to limit the damage to an eight.
A par-birdie finish saw him sign for 74, with McIlroy now heading to Wentworth for the BMW PGA Championship, before the Ryder Cup at the end of the month.
Swede Norrman’s only previous professional victory came in the US two months ago, when he landed the Barbasol Championship, which is jointly sanctioned…