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Golf-McIlroy feels closer than ever to elusive fifth major at U.S. Open

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(Reuters) – Rory McIlroy is still chasing an elusive fifth major title after winning his fourth nearly a decade ago but the Northern Irishman has not given up hope and enters this week’s U.S. Open feeling closer than ever to ending his drought.

McIlroy owns 39 worldwide professional victories, 26 of which have come on the PGA Tour, but he cannot seem to escape questions about his results at golf’s blue-riband events given his last major win came at the PGA Championship in August 2014.

“I’m really proud of my body of work over the past 15 years and everything that I have achieved, whether it be season-long titles or individual tournaments or majors,” McIlroy, 35, said on Tuesday at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.

“Obviously getting my hands on a fifth major has taken quite a while, but I’m more confident than ever that I’m right there, that I’m as close as I’ve ever been.”

McIlroy had a close call at ending his major dry spell at last year’s U.S. Open where he finished alone in second place and one shot back of Wyndham Clark on the North Course at The Los Angeles Country Club.

While McIlroy fell just short of securing that long-awaited fifth major his performance in 2023 still marked yet another positive U.S. Open showing given it was his fifth consecutive top-10 finish at an event known as the toughest test in golf.

McIlroy said he had a “come-to-Jesus moment” after missing the U.S. Open cut in 2018 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, where he went 10 over through two rounds, and has since taken a new mindset into how he approaches the tournament.

“I would say embracing the difficult conditions, embracing the style of golf needed to contend at a U.S. Open, embracing patience. Honestly, embracing what I would have called ‘boring’ back in the day,” said McIlroy.

“Explosiveness isn’t going to win a U.S. Open. It’s more methodically building your score over the course of four days and being okay with that.”

McIlroy will play the first two rounds this week alongside the year’s first two major winners: Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and PGA Championship victor Xander Schauffele.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)

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