Birthday victory out of reach for McIlroy

By Andrew Both

By Andrew Both

CHARLOTTE North Carolina (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy did not secure the 25th birthday present he really wanted when the Northern Irishman battled to finish equal eighth at the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday.

McIlroy surged into contention with a 65 on Saturday, and he knew he needed something similar in the final round to have a chance of winning.

But McIlroy, who shot a closing 62 to win at Quail Hollow four years ago, could not produce a similarly rousing encore. He was never in contention after starting with a bogey to finish at two-under-par 70.

“I struggled to get the ball to the hole on the greens,” McIlroy told reporters after a frustrating day on the putting surfaces, which he found to be slower than expected.

“If I hadn’t shot 76 on Friday I would have been right there in the mix, but it’s getting there.”

The two-time major champion finished six strokes behind winner J.B. Holmes, posting his sixth top-10 result in eight starts worldwide this year.

“I’m (stringing) three good rounds together at the minute (but) I’m not able to get the fourth one in," he said.

“Maybe that will all change next week. I’m in good shape going into the Players (Championship). I’m driving the ball really well.”

(Editing by Gene Cherry)