RORY McILROY finished with mixed emotions at the Open -- elation at his mentor Darren Clarke's emotional win and frustration after his own hopes of lifting the Claret Jug were scattered on the four winds.
Indeed, the 22-year-old is likely to reap a whirlwind with his blunt admission that: "I'm not a fan of golf tournaments where the outcome is predicated so much by the weather. It's not my sort of golf." Especially when he followed up by saying "there's no point in changing your game for one week a year."
McIlroy was in contention going into the weekend after completing the first 36 holes at Royal St George's in even-par but was blown right off course at the weekend as gales gusting to over 35 mph howled in off the English Channel. After signing for a final-round 73, which included a one-stroke penalty on the green at seven when his ball was blown a couple of inches backwards after address, McIlroy finished in a tie for 26th on seven-over par.
His performance in Sandwich was far removed from last month's imperious, record-breaking march to victory at the US Open in Congressional.
McIlroy agreed that if he's going to contend at golf's oldest Major, he's going to have to deal with the weather.
"It's either that or just wait for a year when the weather is nice," he responded. "My game is suited basically for every golf course and most conditions, but I don't enjoy playing in these conditions. I'd rather play when it's 80 degrees and sunny and there's not much wind. I can play in the wind but it's just being comfortable doing that.
"I got a bit down when my ball moved on seven. It's tough when you're looking at an eight-foot birdie putt and all of a sudden, it's for par. You're a bit scrambled, miss it and end up making bogey."
It was remarkable on Saturday to see McIlroy, born and bred one hour from one of the world's finest links at Royal Co Down, look so ill at ease in the wind while his Californian playing companion Ricky Fowler (22) played so naturally he might have been snatched from a cradle in St Andrews.
Fowler shot 68 on Saturday to a 74 for McIlroy, including a double-bogey at 14 where he hit his tee shot right on the wind and out of bounds, effectively snuffing out the youngster's already faint hope of completing back-to-back wins at the Majors.
No question, McIlroy's candid remarks will draw criticism from commentators steeped in the traditions of British golf but his logic is indisputable. Why alter one's game for one tournament per year, in the way Martin Kaymer did for April's Masters, and put the swing out of kilter for several months?
At least the Open will restore a measure of sanity to McIlroy's life after Congressional.
In the meantime, he was planning to celebrate Clarke's success in style. "Darren missed Munich for my celebrations and even though I don't think I'll miss a tournament for his, I'll definitely be there -- and I'll be one of the last ones to go to bed."