Experience of contending will be vital for his future success, says McIlroy

rory mcilroy
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Rory McIlroy has taken a big jump up in the golf world with his strong showings in the majors over the past year.
By
Mark Garrod
PA Sport

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Published: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 | 1:02 a.m.

Rory McIlroy has headed off on holiday, reflecting on another major that got away.

One month ago, the 21-year-old Ulsterman led the British Open after an opening 63 and came in third. On Sunday, he was tied for the lead with four holes to play in the PGA Championship, but three-putted the 15th and -- by missing a 15-foot chance on the last -- finished a stroke behind the playoff pair of Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson.

"I just needed to find one more shot in any of the four days. It's disappointing,” said McIlroy, who also came in third at the 2009 PGA Championship. "It's the first time I've been in contention in the last round of a major, going out in the second-last group. I was feeling it on the first tee and it was a new experience. It will stand me in good stead in the future.

"It's not a bad week, but I would have liked a little bit better,” he added. "I stayed very patient and didn't let anything get to me or my head drop once, which was one of the main objectives. It was a tough day and I felt I handled myself well. I feel in myself I am ready to win one."

McIlroy has to wait until next April's Masters for the next chance, but he has the FedEx Cup playoffs coming up -- and then his Ryder Cup debut.

Who will be alongside him at Celtic Manor in six weeks remains to be seen.

He knows there will be Lee Westwood, providing he recovers from the ruptured calf muscle, U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, PGA winner Kaymer and Ian Poulter, providing he recovers from the chest complaint that led to him pulling out on Sunday morning.

England's Ross Fisher and Italian Francesco Molinari are close to making sure, but the remaining two automatic spots and three wild cards are going to be fascinating in the final two weeks of the race.

Miguel Angel Jimenez and Paul Casey, thanks to his 12th-place finish, are eighth and ninth on the table, but Casey is not coming back to Europe and cannot therefore add to his total.

Padraig Harrington is less than $1,500 behind him, but he isn’t playing any more counting events, either, because he also wants to play the FedEx Cup playoffs as well and they do not count.

Nor is two-time PGA Tour winner Justin Rose. There is no point for him now because he is too far back. And, unless he has a late change of mind, nor is Luke Donald, who was knocked out of a qualifying spot by Kaymer's win.

Europe Captain Colin Montgomerie has three wild cards to hand out on Sunday night. Harrington, Rose and Donald all need one, but Casey and Molinari's brother and World Cup-winning partner Edoardo might be in the same boat and that is the nightmare scenario.

Two years ago Poulter was heavily criticized for not returning and trying to qualify in the final event. Casey, Donald and Harrington -- ninth, 10th and 18th in the world -- can now expect more of the same.