The world No 2 birdied his final hole on Friday in a farcical finish in fading light to make the cut in the $9 million Rolex Series event before clicking into gear in the closing 36 holes on the West Course at Wentworth. He followed a confidence-boosting 67 on Saturday with a final-round 65 to be 12-under-par for the weekend in his final competitive outing before making his seventh Ryder Cup appearance in Rome the week after next.
Before then, McIlroy is off to the Greek island of Mykonos for a friend’s stag party, but the 34-year-old will be heading for Marco Simone Golf on the outskirts of Rome feeling confident about making amends for a disappointing performance in a heavy defeat at the hands of the Americans in the last Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.
“When you look at the weekend as a whole, to shoot 12 under and go from making the cut on the number to finishing in the top ten it's a very solid two days of golf,” declared McIlroy as he reflected on his effort, getting finished just before play was suspended due to the threat of lightning. “I said on Friday night that at least making it to the weekend gave me the opportunity to go out and shoot a couple of good scores and feel a bit better about where my game is and that's what I've done.”
McIlroy’s closing salvo contained an eagle and six birdies. He’d have set a stiff clubhouse target if he’d managed to pick up shots at the closing two holes instead of having to settle for par-5s at both of them, but that was his only mild disappointment about the weekend. “It feels much better,” he added of his game. “It was nice to see the play better yesterday and again today, really happy with where my wedge play and iron play is. Over the weekend started to hole some more putts.
“The weekend was great. I struggled a little bit Thursday and Friday, but I've been saying it's not too far away. I was 16th in Ireland last week, not a fair reflection of how I actually played. I played well. It's been two solid weeks. Definitely things to improve and to work on to try and iron a couple of the misses out of my game, but everything's headed in the right direction.”
All 12 members of Europe’s Ryder Cup team made the cut at the Surrey venue and McIlroy was joined in producing a strong performance by Tyrrell Hatton, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood, Ludvig Aberg and Sepp Straka.
“It's awesome,” said McIlroy. “We're in a good spot. We had a really good day in Rome on Monday, the team's been shaping up really well for the last couple of months, everyone's been in pretty good form. It's still almost two weeks away until the first ball is hit on the Friday morning, but we are all just so excited to get to Rome and get going.”