Rory McIlroy has spring in his step despite watery finish


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The Independent Online

Rory McIlroy stopped the rot in Memphis from which he took a lot of positives even if his final warm-up for his US Open title defence this week still ended on a bitterly disappointing note.

Northern Ireland's world No 2 had missed the cut on his three previous starts, so to be joint leader with one hole to play at the FedEx St Jude Classic was a massive boost in confidence.

Then came a hook into the lake off the final tee, a missed four-foot putt and a double-bogey six that dropped him to joint-seventh.

McIlroy was not too downhearted by his late collapse, though. "I saw a lot of positive signs this week," he said. "I got in a good position after 11 holes of the final round and hit a couple of shots coming in, but overall it's still a pretty good week. I'm looking forward to getting to San Francisco.

"I said in the early part of the week, if I got into contention that was great. I did that. I feel like I'm well prepared going into the US Open."

Dustin Johnson is the one who flies north-west in the best of moods. He birdied two of the last three for a closing 66 and a one-stroke win over fellow American John Merrick in only his second event back from an injury that kept him out of action for nearly three months. Johnson missed the Masters after aggravating his back lifting a jet ski at his home, not returning until the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago. "It feels really good, especially having so much time off," said Johnson. The 27-year-old Ryder Cup player slipped to 21st in the world during his absence, but leaps back into the top 10 on the eve of the season's second major.

There will be a lot of attention on whether No 1 Luke Donald and No 3 Lee Westwood – a five-shot winner in Sweden at the weekend – can end their waits for a first major, but Johnson has had near-misses too. He led the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach but slumped to a final-round 82 as playing partner Graeme McDowell won.