It could have all been so much better for Rory McIlory.
The Irishman’s Players Championship may have secured him another top ten finish – his seventh of the season – but it did not earn him his maiden 2014 tour victory and that must rankle with the 24-year-old.
McIlory has been in fine form this season, but rarely threatened the lead in any competition – with missed opportunities proving to be the tale of his year so far.
Indeed, last week after finishing in tied eighth at the Wells Fargo Championships, the two time major winner spoke of his desire to stop the succession of ‘backdoor’ finishes that he has experienced so far this campaign.
However, he was unable to put an end to it at the Players and never really looked in contention to take the title.
He told Sky Sports: "Overall, it's been another solid week, another top 10 it looks like, another back door top 10 as I like to call them, but it's getting close."
McIlroy did so by shooting a quite brilliant 66 on the closing day which propelled him up the leaderboard.
In-fact it was a testament to his ability that he finished so high up the field, considering he needed to make birdie on the 18th to even make the cut on Friday.
"Any time you shoot 66 and you move up a lot of spots on the leaderboard, I think I was 120th at one point in this golf tournament on Friday afternoon. So to go from there to finishing in the top 10 is a good effort,” he said, clearly thinking positively about his future.
"I'm playing really well, I'm playing solid. I equalled my lowest round ever here at Sawgrass today with a 66, so things are heading in the right direction.”
Even though McIlroy has many reasons to be pleased with his week and is no doubt exuding confidence about his game at the moment, it will hard for him to think that he ever played his way into contention to win the tournament.
A round of 74 on the second-day did the damage to his scorecard for the week, but it was largely down his struggles on the front-nine that McIlroy had so much bother.
Over the course of the four days, McIlroy was eight over on the front-nine, but an impressive 17 under on the back-nine.
It shows that he was in a real position to take the title here if he had been more consistent when starting his rounds.
Eventually, though, he finished four shots behind Martin Kaymer, who was to take the title.
Kaymer ended the tournament on 13 under, after leading since the first day when he shot a 63 to equal the course record.
Also ahead of McIlroy was fellow Brit, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth, whose career is beginning to take off, following a brilliant display here and at The Masters.
And even further in-front were Jim Furyk – who finished in second place, on 12 under – and Sergio Garcia, who ended up two shots back.
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