McIlroy believes he’s close to winning green jacket

Once again, the missing piece of the career Grand Slam eluded Rory McIlroy at Augusta National Golf Club.

Facing the tough task of trying to make up a six-shot deficit entering Sunday’s final round of the Masters Tournament, McIlroy gave it a shot. His 3-under 69 featured only one bogey, but wasn’t near enough to get him into contention.

But a tie for seventh at 3-under with Kevin Chappell marked McIlroy’s fourth straight top 10 at the tournament. And that’s enough to prove to him that he’s on the cusp of finally breaking through.

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“I think I’ve finished five or six back the past few years so give me a six-shot start lead and I’m your man,” McIlroy said. “I feel encouraged if nothing else. I feel comfortable on the golf course and every time I tee it up here, I’ve got a chance to win.

“The ups and downs I’ve had here in the past don’t seem to be quite as up or quite as down. They seem to be more steady and that can only bode well for the future.”

McIlroy has finished in the top 10 of every event this year except for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, missing a large chunk of the early season with an injury.

While his play was close to form this week, McIlroy was quick to identify a part of his game that needed immediate addressing.

“I need to change my golf ball,” he said. “I felt it was doing weird things in the wind, was very inconsistent. That’s one thing I’m going to change and something I’m going to work on in the next couple of weeks.

“But I feel like I’m swinging it as well as I have been for a long time. My putting feels as good as it has in a long time. … I’m going to tinker around with some equipment the next few weeks and try to find something better.”

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