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Rory McIlroy’s drought more complicated after US Open near miss

BROOKLINE, Mass. — What do we make of Rory McIlroy?

It’s difficult to call him an underachiever when he’s won 21 tournaments in his career, including four major championships, and will enter the World Golf Hall of Fame on skates.

The problem is that it’s eight and counting since McIlroy won the last of those four major championships, the 2014 PGA Championship.

And McIlroy, not only an astute historian of the game but one of the athletes most honest with himself as there is in sports, knows that elite players like him are measured in legacy by how many majors appear on their career résumé.

His fifth-place finish in this week’s U.S. Open, four shots behind winner Matthew Fitzpatrick, marks 29 major championships McIlroy has played without hoisting hardware since that PGA victory in ’14 at Valhalla.

“Yeah … another top five in a major,’’ McIlroy said. “I guess doesn’t really mean anything.’’

This week’s 122nd U.S. Open at The Country Club was McIlroy’s 11th top-five finish in a major and his 22nd top 10.

Rory McIlroy
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McIlroy insisted his mantra for majors is not “win or bust,’’ but he then quickly added, “I guess when I look back, will I remember the fifth place I had at Brookline? Probably not.’’

It’s not like he’s turned into a 10-handicap since that PGA win in ’14. McIlroy has won 13 times since then, and among those wins include two Tour Championships, two World Golf Championships and a Players Championship.

Those aren’t exactly low-profile, weak-field events. No disrespect intended, but they’re not the Sanderson Farms Championship, Butterfield Bermuda Championship or QBE Shootout. They’re not opposite-field events.

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