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Rory McIlroy notches fourth top-10 in four weeks

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Rory McIlroy notches fourth top-10 in four weeks

    Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin

    Rory McIlroy knew he needed something special in the final round of the Travelers Championship for a chance at the title.

    With five birdies in his first seven holes Sunday at TPC River Highlands – a week after making just one birdie in the final round of the U.S. Open to finish one stroke short – he looked to be doing exactly that.

    Rory McIlroy's beautiful approach to 5-feet yields birdie at Travelers

    McIlroy slowed down, though – as much as shooting 64 can be tied to “slowing down” – playing his last 11 holes in 1 under on an eminently scoreable layout, where 44 players finished the week double digits under par.

    As the dust cleared, it meant a T7 finish for McIlroy at 18 under, five back of winner Keegan Bradley. Turns out, he would have needed 59 to force a playoff with Bradley.

    It’s McIlroy’s fifth consecutive top-10 finish, four of which have occurred in the last four weeks. After a heart-wrenching runner-up at the U.S. Open, one back of Wyndham Clark, it would have been understandable if McIlroy lost steam in Connecticut. Far from it. He made 25 birdies for the week (only Bradley had more) and an eagle, demonstrating vintage McIlroy mojo. He certainly came to play.

    “Last Sunday feels like a month ago at this point,” McIlroy said, “but coming off the disappointment of the U.S. Open, coming straight here and sort of trying to refocus and forget about what happened in LA and tee it up here and play well, I thought was pretty good.

    “I could have sort of went through the motions this week and mailed it in a little bit. I tried hard until the end and put in a decent performance.”

    He certainly did. For seven holes, McIlroy looked to possess the form where a sub-60 score could be very much in play – Denny McCarthy and Rickie Fowler each shot 60 earlier in the week, after all.

    Rory McIlroy goes back-to-back with birdie on No. 5 at Travelers

    McIlroy’s five birdies within the first seven holes all came from inside 10 feet, alongside two two-putt pars from inside 20 feet. He was, as they say, flushing it.

    Rory McIlroy makes fourth-straight birdie on No. 7 at Travelers

    But an errant tee shot at the par-4 ninth nestled up against a boundary fence, leading to a penalty stroke and his first bogey of the day.

    A 6-foot birdie at the par-3 11th renewed conversation of a finishing flourish – Kevin Streelman once made seven consecutive closing birdies to win here, after all – but a missed 6-foot birdie at No. 12 took some steam out of that possibility. After a routine birdie at the par-5 13th, he finished with five consecutive pars.

    Rory McIlroy bounces back with birdie on No. 11 at Travelers

    Not enough to add to his 23 PGA TOUR titles, but not a week to curtail momentum either.

    “It’s another good week and a solid performance after a long run,” McIlroy said. “Looking forward to a couple weeks off.”

    Kevin Prise is an associate editor for the PGA TOUR. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.

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