Title: Rory McIlroy fails to throw off his shackles at US Open Northern Irishman shows flashes of quality – and frustration – before closing at Merion without a single round under par
Description: If Rory McIlroy is to be believed, the fine margins of golf render it likely that he will blast back to form any time soon. The alternative is that 2013 can already be considered a write-off for a player who rose to the summit of the world rankings last year, thereby apparently placing a marker down for years dominating the sport. McIlroy's US Open closed on Sunday afternoon without a single sub-par round. McIlroy has only looked close to returning to his finest touch in very isolated moments. On the final day he also displayed flashes of temper when tossing his club away on the 5th – en route to a double bogey – and bending another on the 11th after finding water from the fairway. Suggestions that what McIlroy achieved in 2012 meant the likes of Tiger Woods would be placed in the shade for the foreseeable future were wildly ambitious. Albeit Woods himself slipped rapidly from the Merion spotlight; scoring a fourth- round 74 which ensured he, like McIlroy, did not break 70 in the entire tournament. Woods finished 13-over par. McIlroy remains youthful enough to be inconsistent and throughout even the early stages of his career, has endured periods where he flies off the rails. Starting his fourth round at the year's second major when eight-over par and thereby too far back to challenge those at the summit of the leaderboard, needless to say, was not where McIlroy wanted to be. The explanation for that from the man himself was familiar. Some would argue, therefore, that his words are beginning to sound hollow. In a psychological sense, though, if the world No2 cannot convince himself that his fortunes are likely to change soon then he has little hope of returning to his most formidable touch. "It's close, you know," McIlroy said. "There are signs during every round that it's there and then it sort of hits a bit of a struggle for a few holes and then it comes back. "I think it's about confidence and fluidity. I don't have any other way to explain it. I have been working on the swing quite hard over the last few months and it looks really good on camera. I just get on the course and I hit a couple of bad shots and I guess that it sort of makes you lose confidence a little bit during the round.