Rory McIlroy was thrilled to become a Players champion in brilliantly lighting-up the course on a dull and overcast day to end a year-long winless drought by posting a final round 70 to win by a shot with a 16-under par tally.
The new World No. 4 captured a 15th PGA Tour title and a 24th pro career success as he banked the richest first prize in golf, a $US2.25m victory cheque.
On St. Patrick’s Day, McIlroy walked triumphantly onto the 72nd green acknowledging the applause before heading to the scorer’s hut with the chant of ‘Rory, Rory, Rory’ ringing in his ears.
He was handed a gold, new-look Players Championship trophy that matched the gold coloured soles of his Nike shoes – fitting for a new-look McIlroy and one who is clearly benefitting from the many consciousness-themed books he’s been reading.
“I desperately wanted to win today, but it’s just another day. It’s just another step in the journey,” he said.”I’ve been preaching perspective, and I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on that perspective. It’s a glimpse. My career is hopefully going to last another 15 or 20 years, so one tournament or one day or one month in those 20 years is nothing. It’s just a glimpse.
“So, it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change who I am. It looks great on my resume. I’m very happy about that. It’s another step in the right direction. But that’s all it is to me. It’s a huge tournament to win. I’m very proud and very honoured, but it’s just a step in the right direction.”
McIlroy was quizzed on what has been instrumental in the change in his make-up but for those who have worked closely with the four-time Major winner in recent years, the answer lies in his better understanding of consciousness.
“I think it’s a lot of things. It’s, I think, maturity. I think it’s been having a focus over the last six or seven months on my attitude, especially my attitude to golf, and not letting golf define who I am as a person, trying to keep the two things very separate, because one thing that I used to do in the past is I’d let what I shot that day influence who I was or my mood. To try and keep those two things very separate is something I’ve worked hard on because who I am as a person isn’t who I am as a golfer, and it took me a while to get to that point where I realised who those two people were,” he confessed.
“So that has been a big thing. And I think that’s been the big difference between the highs and lows of the last few years and the more consistent play, even over the last 12 months. I’ve had two wins in the last 12 months, but even the play in between that has been pretty good, top 5s, top 10s, given myself a chance most weeks.”
Congratulations Rory. Having knocked on the door for so long, eventually one had to open. Let’s hope the floodgates will open with it.