Unlike some golfers after their final round when they don’t win, Rory McIlroy was expansive in speaking about his 81st Masters on Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club. Excerpts of his interview.
Q: Can you sum up your Masters experience this year for us?
A: Yeah, yeah, it wasn’t quite as adventurous as previous Masters have been for me. I didn’t get too high with some really low nine-hole scores, but I didn’t shoot any nine-hole scores that were in the 40s. It was quite a consistent, steady Masters for me.
It wasn’t quite good enough. I felt like I had an opportunity yesterday to shoot something in the mid to high 60s, which would have got me closer to the lead today and I didn’t quite do that. I gave a decent account for myself and will come back next year and try again.
Q: What do you think you’ve learned this year?
A: I’m getting more comfortable here. I really am getting more comfortable. I feel like every time I tee it up here I have a real good chance to win. My record over the past four years sort of reflects that in terms of being in the top 10; top 10s right now isn’t good enough. It’s going in the right direction. And every time I come back here I feel like I have more and more of a chance to win.
Q: How important is it that you don’t let frustration get in the way?
A: Of course. Coming off the golf course yesterday I was frustrated. But after today I’m encouraged again just from just how I felt around the course. I felt comfortable. I felt like I had a really good chance. I prepared really well, I feel. I came up here a couple of times and enjoyed my time here and just played. And I feel that serves me well, and that’s something I’m totally going to adapt to the future.
Q: Is it possible you might look back on this, when you have a green jacket around your shoulders, that that was the transition Masters that made you feel, I’m ready, I’m comfortable here, I can win here?
A: Yeah, I think this has been, ‘14, ‘15, ‘16, ‘17, it’s been a transitional period where I feel like I figured it out and not been the ups and downs haven’t been quite as much as they have been in previous years. I’m figuring out how to get my way around here. And even if I don’t have my best stuff, still get in in 72, 71, so you’re not shooting yourself out of the tournament.
Q: Did you have a score in mind today when you went out?
A: Yeah, I thought if I shot 8 under par it would be good enough. I thought 67 would playoff, and I thought 64 would win it. We’ll see how that prediction goes, and see what Rosie does it in the last few holes coming in here. But that’s what I was aiming for.
Q: Tough conditions going in, but to finish up with a round like that, and the first major of the year, you have to feel pretty good about that?
A: Yeah, coming off an injury, and every stroke play event that I’ve played this year, I’ve finished in the top 10. So I’ve been consistent. I had stretches of golf that I needed to to have a chance to win. I had a chance to win at Bay Hill. But it looks like a T 7. I had a T4 at Bay Hill, T7 Mexico. T10 in South Africa. The match play was a little bit of an anomaly.
So my game is in good shape and I’m looking forward to getting back out there in a few weeks and just competing again and having another chance to be in contention.
Q: There’s three or four majors left ahead, and the expectations are higher right now?
A: Of course. I think Erin Hills is a bit of an unknown to everyone. But (Royal) Birkdale is one of the best Open courses that’s on the rota. And going to Quail Hollow for the PGA, and I’ve had success there in the past. So nothing but positives ahead I feel.
And my game feels in good shape. It’s just a matter of working hard and putting myself in position to win. I’ll turn my focus to trying to get ready for the U.S. Open in June and try to add to that major tally there.
Q: How much are you looking forward to tying the knot?
A: I’m excited. It’s a great time in my life. It would have been nice to walk down the aisle in a green jacket.
Q: Would you have done it?
A: Oh, yeah. If the members would have allowed me, Chairman (Billy) Payne would have allowed me, but I’m very we’re very excited. It’s a great time in our lives. That’s what I’m the next few weeks it’s all about that. I’ll come back to the players refreshed and a married man and start a new chapter in my life.
Q: Are you going on a honeymoon?
A: Yeah. We’ll come straight in. I wanted to do it right. I didn’t want to wait until the end of the season. Straight after we’re going to go on honeymoon and spend 10 days in the middle of nowhere and get away from it all.