Rory McIlroy singled out his nine horror holes of his first round early on Friday morning as pivotal in again falling short of a maiden Masters victory.
McIlroy produced a final round 69 to share fifth place at 11-under par, nine shots behind record-breaking new Masters champ, Dustin Johnson. ‘DJ’ captured a second Major title in four years and a maiden Masters posting a closing score of 68 to win by five shots with a new Augusta National four-round tally by two shots at 20-under par.
McIlroy’s effort is his second equal best Masters result matching his result in 2018 and was just a place behind his highest Augusta finish of fourth in 2015. The four-time Major winning Irishman, and his young family, were headed home to Florida with McIlroy revealing he will not return to formal competition until the New Year. It will give McIlroy plenty of time to spend with his young daughter while also reflecting on a first year without a victory. “I will look back on this week and obviously rue what happened, maybe not what happened on Thursday but Friday morning to come back and finish my first round,” he said.
McIlroy was level par when darkness halted play late on Thursday but returned, as he said, to play the last nine of his opening round at three-over par. He then played the next 54 holes in 14-under.
“After that I hung in there and I played well,” he said. “I shot a good second round score to get into the weekend and am just happy to then add two other good scores over the weekend. I wasn’t really trying to win the tournament. When I got to 11-under after the eighth hole I saw ‘DJ’ was 15-under so I thought maybe there might be a chance but then the wind got up and it was just hard to make birdies on the back nine. So, yes, pleased with my performance especially over the last three rounds.”
In looking at McIlroy’s Masters stats he’s now posted six over-par opening rounds at Augusta, however, even if you were to have handed him his Augusta average opening round over his prior 42 – a 71.52 – he still would’ve pulled-up well short of success in 2020. Only twice, in 2011 and 2018 when he began with respective scores of 65 and 69 to be sitting first and fourth has McIlroy gone on to contend. But for the time being that is not of importance to McIlroy.
“I’m just going to be a man of leisure for a couple months,” he said smiling. “It’s going to be nice. Lie by the pool a little bit, get back on the bike, get back on the Peloton. I’ve sort of given that a bit of a miss over the last few months. Yeah, just some stuff. Obviously watch my daughter grow up a little bit and have fun with that. I’ll try to get away from it, but yeah, as I said before, there’s certainly some stuff in my golf game that I want to work on before next year.”
McIlroy was also asked what he thought of a first Masters without patrons and if he thought it will be any advantage returning the Georgia course in five months. “The atmosphere, the crowds, the patrons, the feelings that you normally have here that you didn’t quite have,” said McIlroy. “More than any other week of the year I feel like you’re nervous a little more often, and it didn’t quite have that. Not saying it’s a bad thing; I loved the feeling of being relaxed out there and it’s something I probably need to try to adopt going into five months’ time.
“And as for it being an advantage returning next April, look, I hope the course is much different in April than it is now. It’s very soft. I feel like there’s a lot of shots I hit this week where I hit my number and it would spin back off a green or it just wouldn’t do what you expect it to do, so I’d love to get another shot at it in April and have the course play maybe more what we’re accustomed to.”
And before leaving the ‘property’ McIlroy singled out the newest Masters champion for special praise: “DJ been knocking on the door so long, and I think, again, since coming back out of sort of back in June, the lockdown, he has been by far the best player in the world,” said McIlroy.
“He’s won a few times, won a FedEx Cup, had a chance at Harding Park. And I think, yeah, it validates what he did at Oakmont a few years ago and he’s had so many chances and hasn’t quite been able to close the deal, but his resume speaks for itself, how many times he’s won on the PGA Tour, how consistent he’s been. I played with him the first two days here. He’s got the ball on a string. It was really impressive.”
RORY McILROY – 2020 MASTERS STATS –
- Scores – 75, 66, 67, 69 – 277
- Birdies – 19
- Pars – 47
- Bogeys – 7
- Fairways hit – 39 of 56
- Greens in regulation – 43 of 72
- Putts – 30 (Day 1), 29, 24 & 28 (Avg – 27.75 putts a round)
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