ARDMORE, Pa. -- Rory McIlroy started the U.S. Open with a run up the Rocky steps.
He ended it going a few rounds with one of his clubs.
McIlroy was miserable at Merion and he took out his frustrations on his club on No. 11 on Sunday. His first tee shot plopped in the water. He took a drop, then sent another ball into the same creek.
McIlroy then jammed the Nike club into the ground and completely twisted the head.
"I think that's what this tournament does to you," he said. "At one point or another, it's got the better of you, and it definitely did this weekend."
He briefly lost his cool, just not his sense of humour.
When he was introduced at his press conference as shooting 14 over, he joked, "You didn't have to tell them that part."
He shot a 6-over 76 in the final round.
McIlroy was part of the feature group the opening two rounds, playing alongside Tiger Woods and Adam Scott -- Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the world ranking. All three were big duds at Merion Golf Club. Woods finished at 13 over, and Scott at 15 over.
"I thought of the three of us, the first two rounds, Adam played the best, and he was the one with the worst score," McIlroy said. "But that is just what a U.S. Open does to you."
Again, McIlroy never came close to winning. He finished 25th at the Masters this year and was coming off a brutal 78 at the Memorial. He barely made the cut and finished 57th. Most notably, he quit in the middle of a round at the Honda Classic.
The 24-year-old from Northern Ireland believed, though, his game is rounding into form.
"I don't feel like my game is that far away," he said. "That's what I've been taking out of this week. It's a matter of trying to let it all click into place."
With his wedge as bent out of shape as his game, McIlroy finished with 13 clubs. It might not have mattered if he had 19.
The former world No. 1 again refused to blame his equipment switch for his season-long struggles.
"I sort of needed to play a little bit more," he said. "If I was to do it all over again, I would have done things slightly differently. But you learn from that and it's hopefully something I'll never have to do in my career again. So I don't mind taking three months to figure it out and go from there."