Golf: McIlroy upbeat despite Masters frustration

Rory McIlroy finally broke 70 in the Masters on Sunday, but his final-round effort came too late to salvage what was another disappointing campaign at Augusta National for him.

Three birdies against two bogeys were enough to get the Ulsterman into the 60s where he needs to be if one day he is win the year's first major tournament having already won the US Open and PGA Championship.

Earlier rounds of 72, 70 and especially a crushing 79 in Saturday's third round, where he went into the water at both the 11th and the 15th and walked away with sevens, had already scuppered what was his fifth attempt at winning a Green Jacket.

All in all, McIlroy, who will turn 24 next month, said that he had been happy with his form during the week.

"But obviously I went through a bad stretch of holes there yesterday from seven to 11, played them in five over, but apart from that I actually felt like I had a decent tournament.

"But it's just about trying to limit those mistakes. I'm learning each and every year around here. And I still got plenty of more years to try and get one of those jackets."

McIlroy came closest to winning the Masters while making his third attempt in 2001. Leading by four strokes and playing superbly well, the wheels came off his game in the final round and he slumped to an 80 which left him in a tie for 15th.

Just a few weeks later he won the US Open by eight strokes for his first major title and later on advanced to take the world number one spot.

Augusta National, he admits, is not his favorite golf course at the present time, though he says he is prepared to do what it takes to get to know it better.

"It's a frustrating golf course at times, but even today I hit some good shots into pins and instead of going 10 feet away I rolled off the green and stuff like that," he said.

"It's just the way Augusta is and I think you have to embrace it and accept that's what it's going to be like sometimes."

The Masters flop is just the latest in a long line of setbacks for McIlroy this year folowing his change of golfing equipment during the winter break.

He has yet to win a tournament and has lost his top dog status to Tiger Woods, but McIlroy says he still feels he is heading in the right direction.

"I'm on the right track going forward. I'm comfortable with my golf game, the equipment hasn't been an issue all year, it was more just me," he said.

"So I'm happy where I'm heading and I've got a few really good events coming up I'm looking forward to those."