Rory McIlroy claimed his 15th PGA Tour title at The Players Championship on Sunday: Here’s what he said after his win.
Rory McIlroy bounced back from a turbulent start with a two-under-par 70 that saw him crowned the Players Champion as he edged out Jim Furyk by a single shot over TPC Sawgrass on Sunday.
His victory more than silenced any doubts had over his ability to close out a tournament on Sunday as he achieved his first title in 365 days, at an event that boasts the strongest field of the year.
From learning from the near misses to the move from May to March and his outlook going forward for both his game and Augusta, here’s what Rory said after he won.
On winning The Players…
This is probably the deepest field of the year. I’m just thankful it was my week to win. This is one of the tournaments I desperately wanted to win. It has the deepest field, it’s played on an iconic golf course. And these names on the trophy are unbelievable.
It’s very special. You know, I just tried to treat it like another day. Even though I’ve had all those close calls this year, they did not mean anything. If anything they were good for me. I sort of — I called them remote misses. It gives you even more hope to go forward and go again. I think all those experiences this year led me to this point, and ultimately they were good for me because it got me over the line today.
It’s a huge tournament to win. I’m very proud and very honored, but it’s just a step in the right direction.
On how difficult it was to win…
It’s hard. I mean, it was a difficult day. You’ve got guys maybe starting two or three hours before us, they go out and shoot 66, 67, and all of a sudden they post a number. I had no idea Eddie Pepperell was where he was, and he posts 66, and I’m like, wow, he got to 14-under par. So it’s tough. The depth of fields, this is probably the deepest field of the year. You know, there’s so much on the line, and I’m just thankful that it was my turn this week. I felt like if I just stayed patient enough and waited my turn, things would work out for me, and I’m glad they have.
On why his previous near-misses this year helped him win…
— Prior to his victory, McIlroy had posted five consecutive top-sixes this year on Tour
I think all the experiences I’ve had over the last few weeks in terms of trying to win and not getting over the line definitely helped me today.
Maybe if I hadn’t have had those experiences, I wouldn’t be sitting up here with this trophy, so I’m thankful and grateful for those experiences I’ve had this year. Yes, it would have been nice to maybe get another win, but it sort of made it all worth it, the fact that this win has come at this golf tournament, a tournament where Sawgrass and I didn’t have the greatest relationship starting off, and I’m very thankful to the PGA TOUR for putting it back to March.
Honestly, I think it was just all those experiences I’d had starting the year, a good chance in Hawaii, good chance in LA, chance in Mexico, last week, and I think just it’s a combination of just getting those experiences. I felt more and more comfortable each time, and even like — I almost liked today because it was tough.
I’m just really proud of myself, the way I played the last few holes, especially after bogeying the 14th from the middle of the fairway. The second shot on 15 to set up that birdie putt was the best shot of the day by far. And then how I played the last few holes, I birdied 16, kept telling myself on the way to the 17th tee, just make three more good swings. That’s all you need to do, make a good swing in here, two good swings at the last, and this thing is yours, and to step up and make those three good swings, it’s very satisfying knowing that it’s in there when it needs to be. Very proud, very honored to be able to call myself a PLAYERS champion, a tournament I haven’t won before, so great to obviously add to the CV.
On the two reasons why he thinks TPC Sawgrass is much better in March than it was in May…
I think the course — even just the color of the golf course, the fairways and the rough are defined, where back in May, the fairway and the rough were the same color, so you didn’t have definition in terms of where you were hitting your tee shots, and I definitely drove it better this week on this golf course because of that, so even just that simple fact of the overseeding and having that darker green grass in the rough and the lighter green grass in the fairway definitely helped, and it — I think around the greens it just makes it — I was saying to Jason out there, we were saying like when you get into this Bermuda in May, it takes a lot of skill out of it.
It’s sort of hit and hope and you have to be lucky and you’re guessing half the time, where the way the overseed is around the greens now, you can actually showcase some of your skills and you can play shots with pretty certain knowing what it’s going to do, how it’s going to react.
You know, it lets guys sort of showcase their skills a little bit more and play some different shots. So I think that’s the two big differences why it’s better for me in March.
On what this win means heading to Augusta, where he has the chance to win the Grand Slam….
I mean, look, it is — if I hadn’t have won today, I would have said I don’t need a win going into Augusta, but it’s very nice to get a win, especially doing it on this golf course.
I feel like I’ve managed the first six weeks or six tournaments of the year very well, even with some noise around me, whether it is, he can’t close, he can’t plays on Sundays, blah, blah, blah. I’ve just got to do my thing, and if I go and I concentrate on me, control what I can do, good golf and good attitude takes care of the rest. And if I go to Augusta with a similar golf game to what I have now and the attitude I’ve shown over the first few weeks of the year, I think I’ll have a great chance.
On how comfortable he is with his game right now…
I’m very comfortable with where everything is. And yes, confidence comes from that, or I don’t know what comes first, but I’ve sort of simplified everything. I’m working on really one thing in my golf swing. I sort of haven’t — I literally — I do some practice around the short game area when I get to tournaments. I’ve done very little at home, and it’s probably the best my short game has ever been. I’m not saying that I don’t practice, but I’m saying that I feel like I’ve figured out a way to manage my time better and what needs addressed and what doesn’t. So yeah, I’m comfortable.
I go back to 2012, yes, I won five times, but I think I missed five cuts that year. 2014, I had the wins — yeah, in terms of just the run of golf, I think this is the best start to a year I’ve probably made, and I think I’m on a really good path, and I just want to keep going. I think — I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m confident in the path that I’m on. So yeah, I’m as confident as I ever have been with that.
I feel like I’m playing some of the best golf of my life right now.
On having Harry on his bag for two wins…
Harry has been a massive part of this and making me more comfortable on the golf course. He’s been on the bag for just under two years, like 20 months or something like that. We’ve got two wins, but I feel like even the experiences we’ve had on the golf course already have been huge. Harry has been a big part of the success. I don’t think people give — they just think he’s my best friend and I got him on the bag because I didn’t want to listen to anyone else. But that’s not true. Harry is an accomplished golfer, and he has turned into one of the best caddies out here, if not the best. He’s so committed. He’s so professional. And having him by my side out there is so good, and it’s so comforting.
He knows when to talk to me, whenever I need distracted, in terms of not thinking too much about what’s going on around me in the tournament, and he also knows when to say a couple of things. Yeah, he said a couple of good things to me after the double bogey on 4, walking to the 5th tee, but we have a constant dialogue. We chat, we text every night and sort of where we are, what our game plan is the next day. He’s been a big part of this.