What they said. . .
'Destiny taps your head'
"I know exactly how he felt. I've experienced it. What is it with golf destiny? Isn't it strange? It taps you on the back of your head and it either pushes you ahead or pushes you back. Who determines that? It's crazy."
-- Greg Norman, who in 1996 led by six strokes only to shoot 78 and lose by five to Nick Faldo. The Australian never won another Major, but he was 41 at the time. McIlroy is 21.
'In at the deepest end'
"He's young and I am sure he will regroup and come back stronger. He was thrown in at the deep end and this is a serious deep end. You are there on your own, things get out of sync and you lose your tempo."
- Nick Faldo, who didn't win the first of his six Majors until the day after his 30th birthday.
'Far away so close'
"It's difficult -- what do you say? He's such a phenomenal player and the way he played the first three rounds you have to think that a win is not that far away."
-- The beneficiary of McIlroy's collapse, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.
"Golf is a really funny game. One moment you're on top of it and the next it bites you. He knows there's a problem, but it's not an insolvable problem. It's just learning and he's a smart lad."
-- McIlroy and Schwartzel's agent, Andrew 'Chubby' Chandler.
'Cheers he didn't expect'
"A few hundred fans remained, waiting behind the scoring shed near the 18th green. The 21-year-old Rory McIlroy, his hat pulled down across his eyebrows, emerged from a side door with the weary expression of someone who would give anything to start the day all over again. His shirt untucked at the back and his stride slow and sluggish, he looked young and slightly embarrassed, like a kid tromping home from school after two failed exams.
But McIlroy picked his head up at the cheers he did not expect to hear. The remaining fans called his name and clapped for the entire 20 seconds it took him to walk to the clubhouse locker room. McIlroy -- who had taken a four-shot lead into the final day of the Masters, blown almost all of it on one disastrous hole and finished 10 shots behind Schwartzel at four-under-par -- smiled and waved his hand in appreciation."
'Young and hunted'
"This is what happens here. This is what it is like when you are the young and hunted on a Sunday in Augusta. You lead the entire tournament, you are the hottest thing in a knit shirt and big belt, you tell your swing coach to stay in Florida, you're fine that your parents are watching from your hometown Holywood Golf Club in Northern Ireland, you are good enough and strong enough to get this done. And then you walk down the first fairway, and you have never felt more alone."