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Major questions linger for Rory McIlroy as Séamus Power believes he has the game to win a Major

Justin Thomas of the USA celebrates with the Wanamaker Trophy. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty

Brian Keogh

Séamus Power believes he has the game to win a Major after his tie for ninth in the US PGA.

But if West Waterford man, who matches his career-high by jumping two spots to 40th in the world, was also contemplating what might have been at Southern Hills, where a level-par round would have put him in a play-off, what must be going through the mind of Rory McIlroy?

The Co Down man made four birdies in a row from the second to get to four-under par, which turned out to be just one stroke shy of making the three-hole aggregate play-off that saw Justin Thomas, seven adrift of the hapless Mito Pereira overnight, snatch the title from Will Zalatoris.

With the top seven on the leaderboard, including Power, shooting over par on Sunday, this one will sting McIlroy, who matched the 16 birdies made by Thomas and Zalatoris and shot two-under.

He declined to speak to the media after dropping six strokes on three par-threes in Saturday’s costly, four-over 74 and after going backwards over the closing 13 holes on Sunday with some lacklustre iron play and luckless putting, he didn’t stop to offer his views on Sunday either.

Perhaps he has no answers and one wonders what his team, including mental coach Dr Bob Rotella, will be telling him after they watched Thomas and his caddie Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay combine their experience to grab the chance offered by plucky Pereira’s 72nd hole double-bogey.

McIlroy’s putting coach Brad Faxon offered little insight as his man set off on Sunday.

He suggested Saturday’s 74 was mainly “one of those days”, adding, “I think he deals really well with everything.”

By way of illustrating McIlroy’s grounding in the real world he explained how a kid on the range picked up the Co Down’s man empty baskets and was rewarded with effusive “thanks”.

“What other players do that?” Faxon gushed over a common courtesy, suggesting deference to the boss.

“I think he was able to quiet and down the noise by shooting 65 Thursday,” Faxon said, resisting the notion of scar tissue after nearly eight winless years in Majors.

“Having Rotella back in his camp is going to be good for him long-term. Rory’s the oldest 33-year-old in the world, but he’s also one of the youngest in terms of fitness and optimism.”

Given the sensational way Mackay jockeyed Thomas over the line and McIlroy’s wildly contrasting fortunes, it would be no surprise to see the caddie debate revived.

Power is certainly not worrying about McIlroy but looking to get the most out of his game.

“I think if my game is on in a given week, I think I’m good enough to win (a Major),” Power said. “I always say this: if someone like Rory (McIlroy) goes out there and plays his best golf for four days, you are not going to win. He’s going to win the tournament.

“But I feel like if I play my best golf for four days, there’s very few guys who will be able to top me.”

Getting McIlroy just to play his normal game, never mind his best game, now appears to be the challenge for Team Rory.

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