McIlroy feeling good about his game after PGA Championship finale

Rory McIlroy at the PGA Championship
Pio Roda/Turner Sports
Rory McIlroy tied for eighth at the PGA Championship, by far his best showing at a major this year.
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 | 2:54 p.m.

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Rory McIlroy is happy with his golf game after the PGA Championship, and one unfortunate shot won't change that. 

The defending champion tied for eighth, seven strokes behind winner Jason Dufner, by far his best showing at a major this year. 

In a season without any titles, he gave himself an outside shot at victory with two late birdies Saturday. And as McIlroy stood on the fourth green Sunday, that chance didn't look so crazy. He had a 4-foot birdie putt that would have moved him to 5 under, but missed it. 

Hope wasn't lost as he hit his drive on the par-4 fifth hole into the fairway. All it took was one swing of the club for that to change. 

McIlroy's second shot hit the green, but it trickled back down the slope and onto the rocks. In a hazard, McIlroy had to take a penalty drop, and things didn't get any better from there. 

His fourth shot from 80 yards sailed over the green. His chip reached only the collar. His putt from 20 feet just missed, and when McIlroy tapped in, he had a triple-bogey 7 and had tumbled back to 1 under. 

"I hit a good shot," he said. "I did exactly what I wanted to do, but it was in the exact wrong place. But everything else feels pretty good." 

McIlroy briefly returned to 4 under with birdies on the ninth, 10th and 13th before bogeying No. 16. He had made a 15-foot birdie on the third hole to first get to 4 under. 

McIlroy finished with a 70 to close the tournament at 3 under. 

Considering McIlroy was in danger of missing the cut midway through the second round, the PGA Championship could go down as the moment that he rediscovered his game and his optimism. The FedExCup playoffs will offer a chance to prove last week was a turnaround, not a fluke.