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US Masters: Rory McIlroy's record through the years

After Tiger Woods, there would be no more popular winner of the 2024 US Masters than Rory McIlroy.

Even if by some miracle it happened to be Woods and McIlroy in the final group on Sunday, six clear of the rest, there’d be an awful lot of the gallery pulling for McIlroy to finally, finally win his first US Masters and complete the career Grand Slam.

On Sunday afternoon in 2011, it was impossible to consider that McIlroy would win three of the four majors and the Masters wouldn’t be one of them. The Northern Irishman led by four going into the final round on Sunday before dropping six shots on 10, 11 and 12, starting what has been one of the most complex relationships a golfer has ever had with a major.

Here we look back at McIlroy’s record at the Masters.

2011 - Sunday heartbreak

A prodigious golfer, McIlroy recorded a T20 finish on his Masters debut, missing the cut the following year.

By 2011, McIlroy was one of the world’s best golfers with four major top-10s to his name, primed for a first charge at a US Masters success. Sharing the lead with a first-round 65, McIlroy led by two on Friday and by four on Saturday. Not only did he lead by four, the chasing pack was missing the stellar names you’d associate with a Masters leaderboard.

Of the four players tied second going into the final round, only Charl Schwartzel was ranked in the world’s top 40 (29th).

An outward nine of 37 saw McIlroy’s lead reduced before disaster struck. Standing on the 10th tee, McIlroy swung a wild hook towards the Butler Cabin, a loose recovery, another wayward approach, an errant pitch all followed, with McIlroy taking five blows to find the green. A two-putt saw McIlroy leave with a seven, before four-putting from around 20 feet – and three-putting from three feet – on the 12th to end his tournament, where he’d ultimately finish in a tie for 15th, 10 shots back.

2016 - Contending again

In 2015, McIlroy played the weekend six shots better than winner Jordan Spieth, but the 12-shot gap created was far too much to overcome. A year later, though, McIlroy was in the mix going into the weekend.

As the years go by, the 2016 Masters will only be remembered for Spieth’s monumental meltdown allowing Danny Willett to win (as well as Ernie Els’ horrifying six-putt on the Thursday), but it was also the year of McIlroy’s second glimpse of success at Augusta.

After eventually recovering with a T8 and 4 in 2014 and 2015 without ever contending, McIlroy found himself back amongst it once more in 2016, one back of defending champion Jordan Spieth going into Saturday, but three bogeys, one double and zero birdies saw McIlroy play himself out of contention with a third-round 77, eventually finishing T10.

2018 - Final group on Sunday

After seven years, McIlroy found himself in the final group on Sunday at the Masters once more. He’d hung around the leaderboard throughout the week, being three, five and three shots back of the leader after each round.

McIlroy got within one of leader Patrick Reed on the second hole, but would play the final 16 holes three-over-par while Reed played them two-under-par to win a first US Masters.

McIlroy recorded another Masters top-five, but his wait continued.

2020 - Slow start proves fatal

At an autumn-softened Augusta, McIlroy must have fancied his chances going into the Covid-delayed 2020 Masters. Across the final three days, McIlroy was a magnificent 14-under-par. For context, that was a shot better than runaway winner Dustin Johnson.

The difference, of course, came on Friday, when Johnson shot 65 to McIlroy’s 75. McIlroy hit a dismal pull-hook on the par-5 13th to make bogey, finding water on 16 to make another bogey. He’d finish +3, and while his final three rounds were the best in the field, one bad round had, yet again, prevented the Northern Irishman from winning the US Masters.

2022 - A record-breaking Sunday

After 10 straight made cuts at Augusta, McIlroy missed the weekend in 2021. In 2022, the history books show that McIlroy finished second (remarkably, his first top-three finish at Augusta) and shot a final-round 64 to tie the Sunday record at the Masters and card his lowest score.

But as had been the case in too many tournament, a slow start killed McIlroy’s chances.

After the first three rounds, McIlroy was seven, 10 and 10 shots back, but for one in the pro column, McIlroy was outstanding on Sunday, making birdies on 1, 3, 7, 8 and 10 as well as an eagle on 13 to get within four of the lead.

Needing a birdie on the last to post the clubhouse lead and have even the faintest chance of winning, McIlroy found the greenside bunker. But creating what was instantly one of the most iconic Masters moments that didn’t involve a winner, McIlroy splashed out perfectly, seeing his ball trickle down the green and into the hole, sparking jubilation in the gallery.

It was, of course, too little too late, but it will be a fond memory to call upon should McIlroy find himself in the mix on Sunday this year.

Rory McIlroy's US Masters record

Record: T20-MC-T15-T40-T25-T8-4-T10-T7-T5-T21-T5-MC-2-MC
Tournaments played: 15
Cuts made: 12
Rounds played: 54
Rounds in the 60s: 15
High round: 80
Low round: 64
Scoring average: 71.50
Best finish: 2nd

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