Rory McIlroy admitted it took him “days” to get over his “tough” near miss in The Open, but insisted he’s more upbeat than ever about capturing that elusive fifth Major.
Back in action for the first time since Cameron Smith snatched the Claret Jug from under his nose at St Andrews, McIlroy is relieved that the LIV question is off the agenda following the court ruling denying the “rebels” spots in this week’s first play-off event.
“Common sense prevailed,” sixth-ranked McIlroy said at the FedEx St Jude Championship in Memphis. “We can all move forward and not have that sideshow going on for the next few weeks.”
On being quizzed on finishing third in The Open, as he shot 70 to Cameron Smith’s 64, he admitted it was such a huge disappointment, he needed a three-week break.
“Tough,” he said. “That night was tough. The few days after it were OK, I guess. It probably took me three or four days to be, you know, to sort of get back to myself again.”
He added: “I took two weeks off, didn’t touch a club, didn’t see the inside of a gym, probably didn’t eat a vegetable.”
While he regretted not getting up and down for birdies at the third, ninth, 12th and 14th, he added: “I didn’t feel – I didn’t lose it. I think that’s what made it a little easier to get over… It’s not as if I went out there, shot 75.”
Believing he’s closer than ever to ending his eight-year Major drought, he said: “If I keep playing like that in Major championships, the law of averages suggests that I’m going to get myself back in the winner’s circle eventually.”
The top 70 in the FedExCup standings qualify for next week’s BMW Championship with 25th-ranked Séamus Power and 29th-ranked Shane Lowry looking to make the top 30 who will battle for the $17 million FedEx Cup jackpot in Atlanta.
Meanwhile, 16 Irish men and four women, including home favourites Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow, tee it up in the tri-sanctioned ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm Castle and Massereene.
“Nice to play in front of home crowds,” Maguire said, fresh from her tie for fourth in the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield. “Last week it was the bunkers, this week the rough. It’s a different challenge, but I’m looking forward to it.”
There’s no news on whether she will play the KPMG Women’s Irish Open at Dromoland Castle from September 22-25, but she’s thrilled there are two Irish events.
“It’s big,” she said. “When we were kids, Dad brought us to the men’s Irish Open because there was no women’s one. That we have two events back on the schedule, hopefully, those events will build in strength the next few years.”
James Sugrue, Rowan Lester and Robin Dawson play the Frederikshavn Challenge in Denmark, but Ruaidhri McGee had to return home as his clubs never made it out of Dublin airport.
St. Jude Championship Sky Sports (12pm)
ISPS Handa World Invitational Sky Sports (1pm)