Northern Ireland's quadruple major winner Rory McIlroy failed to hit the right notes in the final round of the PGA Championship until it was too late but he believes he is very close to returning to winning ways.
This despite there being a sense of deja vu at the PGA Championship at Wentworth about the manner in which like at The Masters in April the 29-year-old looked perfectly placed to sweep the title but came up short in the final round.
At The Masters he never got going in the final round and failed to put pressure on his partner in the final pairing and eventual champion Patrick Reed.
In contrast at least in the final two holes of the PGA, after a desperate day sending tee shots hither and thither, he did finally put pressure on Francesco Molinari but it was too little way too late.
The unflappable Italian -- who entered the tournament hardly brimming with confidence as he admitted he had been out of form since last August -- said he had not been intimidated by playing with McIlroy and saw his late rally off to win by two shots.
McIlroy, though, believes he is in a far better place than when he missed the cut at his previous tournament The Players Championship and is approaching the form he showed earlier in the season when he won at Bay Hill and also had two top three finishes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
"It's close, it's very close," said McIlroy.
"I've given myself a great chance here this week. I didn't quite pull it off but it's not far away."
- 'I hung in tough' -
McIlroy's play on the final two days never threatened to approach the level of his seven-under par 65 on the Friday which had his playing partner and defending champion Alex Noren quipping he thought about quitting.
He admitted not building on the momentum he had and the three shot lead he held did hurt.
"I get a bit down on myself because my expectations are high, and with a 36-hole lead, I should have closed it out this week," he said.
"I just need to do a little bit more work, and looking forward to getting right back at it at Memorial (Muirfield Village course, Dublin, Ohio) next week.
"I will try to put myself in another position to win and see if I can get the job done there.
"But at least it's better play than The Players, my last outing. At least there's an improvement."
McIlroy, whose expression through the final day went from wistful to bemused and scratching his head till finally putting his head in his hands when an eagle chance on the 18th just stopped short of the hole, says he drew encouragement in the manner that despite things not going to plan his battling qualities kept him in contention.
"I think when you're working through a bit of a swing change or a swing tweak, it takes more than a week's work to try to bed it in, and this is my first competitive start since trying to rectify things," said McIlroy.
"It's not a bad week. I got off to a great start. I gave myself a nice cushion after 36, but yeah, there's still enough loose shots even in that first 36 holes to know that, okay, it's not quite there."
"I held in there. I scrambled well. I hung in tough. I shot a couple under par rounds at the weekend and just wasn't good enough."
© 2018 AFP