The Open 2017: McIlroy fires 67 to finish tied fourth at Birkdale
|2017 Open Championship on the BBC|
|Venue: Royal Birkdale Dates: 20-23 July|
|Live: Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary and follow text updates - including in-play video clips - on BBC Sport website and mobile app. TV highlights on BBC Two. Click for full times.|
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy shot a closing three-under-par 67 to finish in a tie for fourth at The Open on Sunday.
The world number four was five over after six holes in the first round, but battled back to end on five under, seven behind winner Jordan Spieth.
McIlroy, 28, had an outside chance of making a title challenge before a lost ball on the 15th led to his only bogey.
He said: "It's a lost opportunity - I had a chance to get in a few shots better than Saturday and I didn't."
McIlroy birdied the ninth and 11th, with the highlight of his final round at Royal Birkdale an eagle at the 17th.
"I was within four [of the lead] at one point, playing 13 or 14, and I thought with the two par fives coming up I had the chance to post a number and at least scare them a little bit.
"But that's how it goes. It's tough out there, it really is. It is tough coming in."
McIlroy won the last of his four major titles at the US PGA Championship almost three years ago.
He admits that feels "too long" for a player of his ambition although he realises he arrived at Royal Birkdale this week in poor form after missing three of his previous four cuts.
"You look at Jack Nicklaus, he went through a stretch where he didn't win a major in three years," said McIlroy.
"I'm not comparing myself to Jack but it's hard to win them, very hard. It's the reason why in this generation - excluding Tiger [Woods] - no-one's got above five.
"I feel like three years has been too long, but at the same time I'm not going to rush it. I'm not going to stay impatient.
"It is a step in the right direction. Looking at what happened in the last few weeks, this is a lot better."