LOS ANGELES, CA (AP) - Rory McIlroy received the kind of break that most players need in order to win a U.S. Open. He could have added a few putts to his win.
McIlroy was given a chance by the golf gods to save par on the 14th after his approach shot got stuck in the thick grass above the greenside bunker. McIlroy, as was the case on Sunday, missed the putt and made his only bogey. This single shot cost him a one stroke loss to Wyndham.
McIlroy finished at 9-under-2701 after shooting an even-par 70, including one birdie and 16 pars. McIlroy's drought in majors now stands at 33. This dry spell is approaching nine years.
He had 36 putts in 18 holes - no need to do complex math - and did not sink a putt higher than 8 feet. The 18th green attempt looked the same as the other 18 birdie attempts he made in a day where he was the best golfer from tee-to-green. The 40-footer looked like it was on track, but it drifted off at the end to allow for a tap-in.
McIlroy's day was defined by a moment on the par-5 fourteenth. He drove into the rough on the left, punched to the fairway, and then had a 125 yard shot into the narrow green.
The plan failed. Harry Diamond was in disbelief as he put his hands on his knees and bowed down. McIlroy tried desperately to locate the ball in the thick grass above the sand.
The ball was embedded in the face of the wall just above the bunker. Previously, a ball embedded outside the fairway was played in the same position as it lay. After a rule change in 2019, any ball that is embedded anywhere other than the sand will be granted free relief.
McIlroy dropped 40 feet above the bunker in an ideal lie. He chipped up to 10 feet but missed his par putt. He was three shots behind Clark after his only bogey.
McIlroy's putter was still ice cold and he couldn't convert his birdie attempts from 22, 62 or 33 feet on the final four holes.
He tied Jon Rahm on Sunday for the lead, and he hit 59 in total for the week. Six more than the rest of the field. But despite this, he will still be without a major since the 2014 PGA Championship.