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Rory McIlroy has himself a day; Travelers makes impression on young star

By Matthew Conyers
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Rory McIlroy didn't get the start he wanted in the first three rounds of the Travelers Championship, but he finished well enough to want to come back again.

McIlroy, No. 3 in the world golf standings, shot 6-under-par 64 Sunday to finish 17th at 273 and earn $83,111.

It was his best round of the week, and came after disappointing rounds of 73 and 70 in the second and third rounds.

"I'd definitely come back again," McIlroy said. "This is one of the best courses on tour. It is par 70; it's fun. You can make a lot of birdies, but if you put yourself in the wrong spot you can make bogeys pretty quickly as well. And the crowds out there [Sunday]. I teed off before 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning and they were really good. It was a pleasure to be here this week and great to play in front of such great crowds."

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With large galleries once again watching his every move, McIlroy started his round hot and didn't cool down until the final hole. He made three birdies in his first six holes and made three straight on the back nine from No. 11 to No. 13.

After a birdie on No. 15 got him to 7-under, McIlroy made two pars and bogey to end play at TPC River Highlands. He failed to make the green in regulation for the first time Sunday after hitting his drive into the rough and putting his second shot off the green. He then missed a par putt of about nine feet on the par 4, No. 18.

McIlroy was part of the fourth group to tee off Sunday morning with Rod Pampling. He went off at 8:51 a.m., and was 12 shots back of leader Jordan Spieth. But when he walked off the 18th after one last roar from the crowds surrounding the hole, he was six shots back of Spieth, who still had two hours till he teed off.

"At least I showed up for one day this week and showed them what I'm capable of," McIlroy joked about the crowds. "I tried to be good to the kids -- I think that's the big thing. There was a lot of kids that came out here to watch and tried to not just set a good example, but make them enjoy it and give them memories."

Growing up, McIlroy was one of those kids.

"I remember going to the World Match Play every year and getting balls from Padraig Harrington, Sam Torrance, Darren Clark, Mark O'Meara, Colin Montgomerie and that left a mark with me, too," McIlroy said.

WATCH: Spieth holes out to win the Travelers

After shooting 3-under 67 in his tournament debut, McIlroy barely made the cut on Friday, coming in at even after 36 holes. And it didn't get much better in the third round as he failed to get anything going on the greens. But on Sunday with his third putter change of the tournament, it finally started to click. He was using a putt with a familiar head shape and using a line on his ball to help with his alignment. He said he wanted to be a bit more committed to the lines he was choosing.

"I couldn't have done any worse than what I've done in the first three days so I just wanted to mix it up and go back to something that look a little more familiar," McIlroy said about the putter switch. "I went back to to that [Sunday] to see if I could conjure up any good feelings and it felt pretty good."

McIlroy was chasing the lowest round of the week when he got to 7-under on No. 15 with a birdie, but he made a bogey on the final hole. Spieth shot a 7-under 63 on Friday and Anirban Lahiri had a 63 on Friday. On the back nine, he got going when made a birdie putt of about 15 feet on No. 11. A few holes later on the par 5, No. 13, where he got his third straight birdie, a loud cheer of "Go Rory" came from a house up on the ridge that borders the hole.

This article is written by Matthew Conyers from The Hartford Courant and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.