124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Rory McIlroy discovers the virtue of patience, wins Deutsche Bank

September 05, 2016

Getty Images

NORTON, Mass. -- Rory McIlroy began his week by playing his first three holes at the Deutsche Bank Championship in four-over par. He ended it with a trophy.   The lesson for the 27-year-old? Patience, something that has been more burden than virtue for most of his career to this point.   “I've just not been as positive about the situation as I could have been,” McIlroy said. “Yeah, it's happened to me many times before, but I think you learn with experience and a little bit more maturity ‑‑ four‑round golf tournaments, it's a long time. There's a lot that can happen, and I sort of proved that to myself this week.”   At last month’s PGA Championship, he missed two birdie putts from inside 15 feet in his first two holes, dropped his head, slumped his shoulders and went on to miss the cut in a major for the second time this year.   This week at TPC Boston, McIlroy displayed a type of resilience that hasn’t often been associated with his game. For all of McIlroy’s success -- 21 worldwide wins, including four major championships -- he has proven to be a tremendous front-runner.   This one required digging a little deeper.   After the sloppy start, McIlroy played his remaining 69 holes at the Deutsche Bank in 19 under. That included making seven birdies, including five in his first nine holes, and just one bogey in a round of 65 on a windswept Monday to erase a six-stroke deficit and beat Paul Casey by two.   “Wow, yeah, very impressive,” Casey said of McIlroy’s performance. “That's a mighty round of golf.”   It was also a “massive” struggle in the breeze for Casey, who made two bogeys in his first five holes, four overall and just two birdies on his way to a 73.   Needing to eagle the par-5 18th to force a playoff, Casey reached in two but left himself 70 feet from the hole and three-putted.      “I struggled a little bit from the get‑go and it's hard to regain rhythm and make your birdies if you hadn't started out that way, so I found it incredibly difficult,” the 39-year-old Brit said. “I battled well, did a lot of things brilliantly all week, but obviously frustrated, just fell short at the last.”   Still, this one was about McIlroy, who tied for the low round of the day with Adam Scott and seemed to find something with the club that has given him fits this year, his putter.   After making a slight adjustment to how he gripped the club prior to his second round, McIlroy needed just 25 putts. A day later he took 26.

RELATED: Rory McIlroy hires putting coach to help stanch the bleeding   This week marked the first time in McIlroy’s career on the tour that he led the field in driving distance and in putting average. He also ranked seventh in strokes gained/putting.   “After three holes on Friday, there was so much going through my head and none of those things involved sitting beside a trophy at the end of the week,” he said. “So it's just been incredible. I played some great golf after that.”   It also proved just how slim of a margin exists for a player of McIlroy’s caliber. In 17 previous worldwide starts this year, he finished in the top five eight times, many of those coming from behind on the last day when he wasn’t in contention.   “It's a fine line, very fine line between missing the cut and winning the tournament,” said world No. 1 Jason Day, who finished seven strokes back of McIlroy. “A few putts go your way, get a little bit of confidence, start rolling them in, start feeling good about yourself.”

RELATED: Rory McIlroy's 5 keys to rip your driver   And while everyone else wondered what was wrong with McIlroy, the Northern Irishman kept telling himself it was about the bigger picture.   “He's remarkable because he's a bit Teflon-coated, Rory,” said Adam Scott, who can relate to struggles with the flat stick. “He gets criticized a lot, everything analyzed, and he's very patient I think with it all. To me it looks like he hasn't got so frustrated this year, he's just kept doing his thing. And this week he's kind of found some magic in his fingers or something.”   And Sunday night was able to wrap them around another trophy and a championship belt.   “I think even finishing in the top 10 after that start on Friday would have been a very respectable result,” McIlroy said. “But to be sitting up here and have won the tournament, I'm very proud of myself for that.”