How Rory McIlroy's Latest Major Bid Crumbled At Southern Hills

The Northern Irishman's Major drought looks set to continue after a torrid third round at Southern Hills

Rory McIlroy during round 3 of the 2022 PGA Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It was heralded as some sort of eureka moment. A sign that Rory McIlroy was ready to end his eight-year Major drought that extends back to the 2014 PGA Championship. Sadly, the reality appears set to follow the same old script.

As the Northern Irishman bounced off the final green at Augusta National having induced arguably the loudest cheer of the week at this year's Masters, he looked 'back'. The score read 64; the final position second; the significance, we hoped, far greater. 

But, as is the way of things, it's never that simple, and once again we are staring down the barrel of another Major McIlroy disappointment. One that stings even more given he overcame the first-round hoodoo that has plagued his recent history with golf's 'big four'.

For those that tuned in to the action on Thursday at Southern Hills were treated to a masterclass. It was Rory at his finest as he stole the headlines from a blockbuster group that contained the mesmeric Tiger Woods and the Grand-Slam chasing Jordan Spieth.

Every part of his game was purring - even his wedge play - leaving him one clear of the field and putting the golfing world on red alert. Having waited eight long years, it truly was time. Or so we thought.

For such was the desire to see the 33-year-old hoist the Wanamaker Trophy for a third time that a stuttering 71 on Friday was excused as his 'bad round' of the week. Sadly, far worse was to come. 

On Saturday in Tulsa, the anguish was written all over McIlroy's face. He knew what was unfolding and he looked fed up of playing the villain in his own panto. 

It started brightly enough. It wasn't vintage, it wasn't Thursday McIlroy, but five straight pars was nothing to sniff at in the cold and blustery Tulsa conditions that sent scoring soaring. However, it always felt like the first step taken needed to be forward. His tee shot on the par-3 sixth put paid to that idea. 

After finding the water, the resultant double-bogey kick-started a six-hole collapse that reached a crescendo on the 11th. This time, no penalty shots featured as he racked up a triple, again the par-3s proving his undoing. That dropped him to six-over for the day and two-over for the tournament. Out of it.

True to form, he wrestled back some momentum with a dazzling run of three birdies in four, the last of which came at the brutal 523-yard par-4 16th. Daring to dream, he once again showed why he is one of the most frustrating golfers to watch and root for, as he tossed away his resurgent hope as quickly as he'd recovered it by failing to birdie the driveable par-4 17th and bogeying the last after a perfect tee shot.

Rory McIlroy reacts to his tee shot on the sixth hole during the third round of the 2022 PGA Championship

A double-bogey on the sixth sparked a disastrous run for McIlroy that all-but ended his hopes of capturing a fifth Major

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Which leaves us in an all-too familiar position. Having started the third round five behind in a tie for fifth, he now enters Sunday with his chances of winning in tatters. Barring a miracle, all that remains is the opportunity to salvage a back door top-five, the likes of which he has become painfully famous for.

But McIlroy is not alone in flattering to deceive in Oklahoma. While there are still 18 holes to play, Justin Thomas deserves an honourable mention. At six-under through two rounds, having navigated the tougher half of the draw, he trailed only Will Zalatoris and Mito Pereira - two players without a PGA Tour win and only eight Major starts between them.

And despite hanging around a little better than McIlroy, the final score read the same: 74. Thomas isn't out of it at two-under but he is seven back and in need of help - lots of it - from those in front if he wants to add to his solo Major title that is now somehow five years old.

Then there's the rest of them, for the top of the 2022 PGA Championship leaderboard is conspicuous by its lack of highly ranked challengers. Of the world's top 20, only three are under par and within eight of the lead ahead of the final round. Isn't it supposed to be at the marquee events that the game's elite shine brightest?

As for McIlroy, we wait and wonder which version is going to turn up this Major Championship Sunday. With the burden of pressure and expectation removed, I'm expecting something special, but I'd almost rather he faded away with a whimper this time, because when it comes to golf's unpredictable Hollywood star, it really is the hope that kills you.

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.


Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.


As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.


What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1