Rory McIlroy, fresh off his Tour Championship and FedExCup win, was in a prime position on Sunday in Switzerland to take home his second title in two weeks.
The Northern Irishman, however, came up just short.
McIlroy fell in a five-man playoff to Sebastian Soderberg at the European Masters at the Crans-sur-Sierre golf club in the Swiss Alps, failing to sink a birdie to match Soderberg in the first extra hole.
McIlroy finished with a three-under 67 on Sunday, bringing him to 14-under on the week. While the current No. 2 player in the world is near the top of his game, the European Masters marked his seventh event in just eight weeks — something that has clearly started to take its toll.
“(I made) too many mistakes,” McIlroy said, via the Associated Press. “Playing that much, sometimes these mental errors creep in.”
McIlroy got off to a rough start on Sunday, recording four birdies through his first 10 holes. However four straight birdies on the back nine, and then a fifth on No. 17, put him right back in contention.
While Soderberg had the opportunity to win in regulation, the 28-year-old three-putted for bogey on No. 17 and then missed a birdie putt on No. 18.
“I thought I had it,” Soderberg said about his putt on No. 18, via the Associated Press. “I literally couldn’t hold the putter still so I was just happy I gave it a good try.”
The late mistakes on the green sent him into a massive playoff field — joined by McIlroy, Lorenzo Gagli, Kalle Samooja and Andres Romero. It only took him a single playoff hole to seal the deal, however, thanks to a clutch eight-foot putt on the par-4 18th.
The win marked the Swede’s first career victory, and secured his European Tour card through the 2021 season.
“It’s going to change your life going forward,” Soderberg said, via the Associated Press. “I was way more calm in the playoff than I was in my last few holes.”
McIlroy — who won three times on the PGA Tour this season at the Tour Championship, RBC Canadian Open and The Players Championship — is currently on a quest to reclaim the top spot in the World Golf Rankings. The 30-year-old sits just one spot behind Brooks Koepka, though he trailed him by just more than 100 points before the European Masters.
Still, with the way he’s playing, McIlroy feels he can get back to the top of the golf world for the first time since 2015 soon.
“I feel like when I’m playing my best, I’m the best player in the world. And I’d like to get back there,” McIlroy said Thursday. “It’s been a goal of mine for a while. I haven’t experienced that summit for the last four years. So I feel like with the work that I’m putting in and the consistent golf that I’m playing, hopefully it’s only a matter of time.”
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