It took Rory McIlroy some time – and a few bottles of wine and some prodding by his wife – to get over his loss at the Masters last month. Without only a Masters victory to complete the career Grand Slam, McIlroy called the event “the biggest golf tournament in the world” on Wednesday.
McIlroy entered the final round of the 2018 Masters in the final pairing with Patrick Reed. However, he shot a 2-over par 74 on Sunday and finished tied for fifth, six shots behind first-time winner Reed.
“I went back home and sort of decompressed,” McIlroy said before this week’s Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, his first event since the Masters. “Binged watched a couple of shows, read a couple of books, drank a few bottles of wine. No, I didn’t mean it like that. That sounds really bad. It wasn’t that bad. It got to the point where (wife) Erica (Stoll) had to drag me out of the house and say we are going to go do something. I said ‘OK, let’s.’ Once I got back into my routine, I was fine.
“I was disappointed because I didn’t give a good account of myself that last day. I got lucky on Saturday. That 65 was as good as I could have played. I got lucky. I chipped in. There were a couple of balls that hit trees and came back into the fairway. Hit it up into the azaleas and I got away with it. My game, I was sort of holding it together. Then with the pressure of Sunday trying to chase Patrick down, it never quite clicked for me. It was just disappointing that that was the way the week finished. It was no where near as disappointing the experience I had there a few years ago so it was much easier to get over.”
The reference, of course, was to the 2011 Masters where McIlroy entered the final round with a four-stroke lead only to shoot an 8-over par 80. He missed out on his first major title – and one that still eludes him after wins at the 2011 U.S. Open, 2012 and 2014 PGA Championship and 2014 British Open.
McIlroy is trying to join the elite company of Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only golfers with titles in all four majors.
“The Masters has now become the biggest golf tournament in the world,” McIlroy said. “And I’m comfortable saying that. I don’t care about the U.S. Open and the Open Championship. It is the biggest golf tournament in the world. The most amount of eye balls. The most amount of hype. The most everything is at Augusta. For me, it’s the most special tournament that we play. It’s the one that everyone desperately wants to win. …
“I don’t think about trying to win the Grand Slam. I just think about trying to win the Masters and what that means.”
It wasn’t during a binge watch of the Showtime series Billions or reading books The Chimp Paradox or Essentialism that got McIlroy’s mind to wander back several weeks to Augusta. It was in the still times. Isn’t it always?
“It was more the quiet moments,” McIlroy said. “You catch yourself. I was trying to immerse myself in anything but golf at that point. … It was just the quiet moments when you are staring off into the distance and you think a certain shot or a certain putt and you are just like … It got to the point where I needed to see a bit of daylight and get outside and go for walks and start to do my usual thing and then it sort of went away.”