Butch Harmon: Why Rory McIlroy’s Sunday round at the Masters was so significant

Rory McIlroy high-fives caddie

Rory McIlroy's final-round 64 at Augusta was meaningful, says Butch Harmon.

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While Scottie Scheffler’s Masters victory looked like it was a foregone conclusion during Sunday’s final round, there was one player who lit up Augusta National to cast some doubt on Scheffler’s coronation: Rory McIlroy.

The 32-year-old Northern Irishman needs a victory at the Masters to complete the career grand slam, but has been snakebit at Augusta ever since his Sunday collapse in 2011, when he squandered a four-shot lead with a final-round 80.

Things were different this year, as McIlroy came from behind to post his best-ever finish, a solo second, thanks to an awe-inspiring final round of eight-under 64.

Though McIlroy ultimately fell three shots short of Scheffler, on this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, Butch Harmon explained why McIlroy’s Sunday performance was so significant.

“This, to me, was the shot in the arm he needed. He needed a finish like he had on Sunday to shoot 64,” Harmon said. “I think he was losing his confidence. I think his confidence was down, he was trying different things, going to a few different coaches. I think he went back to being Rory. I think he went back to just seeing the shots and hitting the shots.

“He needed that last round for confidence.”

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Since 2014, McIlroy has finished in the top 10 at the Masters seven times, but never with such a dominant Sunday charge.

“This is exactly what Rory McIlroy needed,” Harmon said. “He needed this to show himself, not anyone else, just to show himself that he could do this. And I think now, when we get to the PGA and the Open at St. Andrews, I think it’s going to be a different story. I think Rory’s gonna be in the hunt in all of them.”

For more from Harmon, including what he thought of Tiger Woods’ Masters performance and whether or not he thinks Scottie Scheffler has staying power, check out the full interview below.

Golf.com Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.