PHILADELPHIA -- For the second week in a row, under much less pressure and under many fewer cameras, Rory McIlroy blew a tournament he was leading on Sunday.
Last week it was the Masters and this week it was the Malaysian Open, but it's the same song, different verse. McIlroy was in good shape to win the title and walked off singing the same tune.
"I'm very disappointed at the minute, and I'm sure I will be for the next few days, but I'll get over it," McIlroy said. "I've got to take the positives, and the positives were I led this golf tournament for 63 holes."
That quote was after the Masters.
"At this moment I'm pretty disappointed, but it was a good week," said McIlroy. "I'm disappointed with the result, but everything else was positive."
That was after a final-round loss in Kuala Lumpur.
A pattern may be developing with your Mr. McIlroy, but before we explore the potential alarms, let's be fair.
McIlroy is 21 years old. Leading the Masters on the back nine Sunday after carrying the pressure of leading the tournament from the jump, is a lot to ask a seasoned pro. Imagine being that young and having to live up to that challenge, especially at the Masters and especially in his first opportunity with that kind of lead in a major.
Now, McIlroy travels 9,915.8 miles to Kuala Lumpur and still compete when a lot of guys in his shoes on the first train to Withdraw Station. Rory played well all week and it looks like the ghosts of Augusta past are in the closet. He endured countless weather problems and had to play 27 holes on Sunday.
McIlroy had to be tired and by the time the third round ended, he was out of the lead. He birdied the 16th and 17th to get within one and had a birdie chance at the last to force a playoff with another young star, Matteo Manassero. McIlroy three-putted and it's a bogey and another squandered week.
With that kind of Augusta heartbreak and the jet lag from Georgia to Kuala Lumpur, it's easy to see why McIlroy didn't pull off the win at the Malaysian Open. He deserves credit for being in the hunt after all he went through, but two straight weeks of letting it go in the final round is troubling.
Age not withstanding, McIlroy is a top-10 player in the world. His strong play is no longer unexpected. Is he a major-winning caliber golfer, even at 21? Yes, he should be.
That doesn't mean to imply he should have won the Masters because that's no guarantee. Charl Schwartzel tied him with two holed shots from off the fairway early in the final round. McIlroy got the lead back by the 10th tee, then stuff happened.
He must have scared the beejesus out of anyone in those cabins off of 10 since it's hard to imagine anyone has ever been there maybe in Masters history. McIlroy hit a tree and then it ran downhill. That's happened to better players than him and it'll happened to better players than him in the future.
But the very next week, again after a flight where he could've gotten through most of a whole season of "24," McIlroy let one go in the final round. He was probably exhausted, but he's on the course and he's in position to win.
One can't dismiss the factors involved in those two straight Sunday losses, but the fact is, for two consecutive weeks, McIlroy was in the pole position and hit the clubhouse an unhappy man.
For some golfers, pulling through on Sunday, especially in majors, takes a lot of time. Phil Mickelson comes to mind. Padraig Harrington had a hard time polishing off wins anywhere in the world, let alone major championships.
McIlroy's biggest win to date came at last year's Wachovia Championship. Young Rory was four behind Billy Mayfair heading into the final round and fired a 62 to get the rather comfortable victory. He did that several groups behind the final group when the pressure is a little less.
Again, for his age, McIlroy has had an amazing week. We can't take his age completely out of the equation, but if a 40-year-old ranked ninth in the world blew two consecutive final-day leads, it would be something to keep an eye on.
That's the only point. Objectively, McIlroy had a rough couple of weeks. Is it unfair to question whether he can hang on the next time he has a Sunday lead? It shouldn't be. There's precedent.
McIlroy handled the Masters situation better than a fella twice his age. He's classy, poised and will most likely come out of this just fine. McIlroy may have grown up a little with what's happened, but excuse me if it's a little pause for concern.
- Congrats to Brendan Steele, but the back nine Sunday of the Texas Open was about as interesting as what I imagine making toast with just bread and light bulb would be.
- Steele is Anthony Geary's nephew, according to his PGA Tour bio. Geary plays the famous Luke on "General Hospital." It's doubtful that's where you heard Steele's name before. That would be when he said Tiger Woods didn't really give it his all in the final round at Torrey Pines. Joke's on Tiger I guess since Steele won once this year and Tiger's still pitching a shutout.
- Isn't it amazing that Kevin Na gets folk hero status for just being ridiculously bad on one hole? What was the alternative, withdraw? "Yes, Kevin why are you withdrawing?" "I lie 11."
- Movie moment - Movies I've seen in their entirety the last week - "Police Academy 2," "The First Wives Club," and "Police Academy 3." Didn't like a single second of any of them.