Washington — Rory McIlroy endured a “tough night” after an agonising Open Championship defeat extended his major drought, but the Northern Ireland star said the misery didn’t linger.
McIlroy held a share of the 54-hole lead at St Andrews last month and was two up through nine holes in the final round before Australian Cameron Smith surged away with a 64 to take the claret jug with a 20-under par total.
“That night was tough,” McIlroy, a four-time major winner, said on Wednesday as he prepared for the US PGA Tour St Jude Championship in Memphis, Tennessee.
“The few days after it were okay, I guess. It probably took me three or four days to sort of get back to myself again. But I think what softened the blow a little bit, I felt — I should have got the ball up and down on 9, 12 and 14.
“But apart from that, I didn’t lose it. I think that’s what made it a little easier to get over. The fact that Cam went out and shot 30 on the back nine … It’s not as if I went out there, shot 75,” said McIlroy, who was 18-under for the tournament.
“I think because of how I played, it made it I guess just a little easier to get over.”
McIlroy said he spent two weeks on holiday in Britain after the final major of the year, not touching a club.
“It was nice to take that little break,” he said. “I felt like I needed it. I feel refreshed and ready to go for the playoffs.”
McIlroy said the fact that he did little wrong at St Andrews and still couldn’t bag a fifth major was less frustrating than encouraging.
“I think it’s more, 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,” he said.
“If I keep playing the way I’ve been playing in the bigger tournaments, the law of averages would suggest that I’m going to get myself a trophy at some point.”