Sunday is fast becoming Rory McIlroy’s least favourite day of the week.
That’s because for the seventh time since last January, the four-time major winner came up short in a tournament when heading into the final round in the last group out.
At the SBS Tournament of Champions, McIlroy started the day three shots behind leader Gary Woodland and a one-under-par 72 in the final round – his worst round of the week by three strokes – saw him finish eight shots behind champion Xander Schauffele.
The American shot an 11-under-par 62 in the final round to clinch the first PGA Tour event of 2019 and his fifth tour title by one stroke from Woodland.
For McIlroy, though, there was still reason to be optimistic. He led the field in strokes gained off the tee and finished T4 in his tournament debut, all while having not teed it up since the DP World Tour Championship in November.
Asked whether he felt like it was déjà vu when comparing this result to his Sunday performances of the past 12 months, McIlroy said: “Not really. My attitude was much better today, I didn't press at all, I was very patient, it's just something I'm going to have to persist in, just keep putting myself in these positions and honestly.
“I don't think anyone could have beaten Xander today. I would have had to have gone out there and shot nine-under par at the time. So obviously I could have shot a better score, but I did what I wanted to do. I gave myself plenty of chances, I hit most of the fairways, I hit most of the greens, just couldn't get the ball to drop.”
A real point of contention, now, is where McIlroy tees it up next. After recent ‘crunch talks’ with European Tour chief Keith Pelley, it was believed the Northern Irishman would tee it up in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. But he maintains no decision has yet been made.
“I'm going to go home and sort of reassess where I'm at,” he added. “I'll definitely play once before LA [Genesis Open] but I haven't made my mind up where yet.”