McIlroy couldn’t find his stroke with the putter.
He only made two birdies in the final round and finished with a 70, which probably would’ve won him the tournament if it weren’t for Smith’s eight birdies. McIlroy dropped to third place after Cameron Young recorded an eagle on 18.
The Northern Irishman talked with NBC’s Kathryn Tappen after the round.
“Just disappointment I guess,” he said when asked his thoughts on the round. “I had a great opportunity to add to that major tally, and I didn’t quite get it done. Didn’t feel like I did many things wrong. The putter just sort of went cold on me there, pretty much throughout the round. I did what I wanted to do. I played a really controlled round of golf. I didn’t take advantage of some of the holes I had been taking advantage of this week.
“Both Camerons, but especially Cam Smith, went on that run on the back nine. I really had to try to dig deep and make some birdies, and I just couldn’t. I got beaten by the better player this week. To go out to shoot 64 to win an Open Championship at St. Andrews is a helluva showing. Hats off to Cam, he’s had an unbelievable week.”
McIlroy said he knew he could win the tournament, which would have been his first major title in eight years. He won the Open Championship and PGA Championship in 2014.
“I knew that I could do it,” he said. “I love this golf course. I play well here. The last two Opens I’ve played here I’ve finished third both times. It’s coming. I just think this whole major season — second at Augusta, third here, fifth at the U.S. Open, eighth at the PGA — I’m knocking on the door. I just need to stay patient and keep knocking on the door, and eventually one will open for me again.”
Though the major tournaments on the golf season are finished, the FedEx Cup is still in play for McIlroy. He’s in fourth place after the Scottish Open. He has 1,894 points in 12 events. Scottie Scheffler is the leader with 3,514 after four wins in FedEx Cup tournaments.
There are six tournaments left on the 2021-22 PGA Tour schedule. The 3M Open is set for July 21.