Rory McIlroy has dismissed suggestions that he needs to work on the mental side of his game after passing up a glorious opportunity to complete the career grand slam at this year’s Masters.
The former world No.1 put himself in a near-perfect position to win at Augusta National two weeks ago when he entered the final round three shots adrift of 54-hole leader Patrick Reed.
However, the Northern Irishman laboured to a aboured to a 74 in the last round. He was one of only 11 players who failed to break par on the final day and his score was the joint-worst of those who finished inside the top 25.
That prompted some observers to question if the four-time major winner has the mental strength required to win at Augusta National and become just the sixth player to win all four men’s major championships at least once.
Facing the media at Adare Manor today in Limerick, McIlroy insisted that speculation is wide of the mark.
“I just didn’t hit the right shots at the right time and it’s as simple as that,” he said. “I view Augusta as a very positive week. I put myself in a position to win another major. It didn’t quite happen for me. But the long list of positives far outweighs the negatives.
“I wish I had put a bit more pressure on Patrick Reed early in the fourth round but I wasn’t quite able to do it and that was really it.
“But I’ve got three more chances to win a major this year. My game’s in great shape. I’ve won already this year and I gave myself a chance at the first major, so there’s no reason why I can’t go and give myself three more chances. If I do that, I feel like I’ll hopefully add to my tally.”
McIlroy, who added that he switched his phone off for about five days after The Masters “for very obvious reasons”, also said that the circumstances of his disappointment this year are very different to his 2011 heartbreak at Augusta. On that occasion, he let slip a four-shot 54-hole lead and closed with a 80 to finish in a tie for 15th as he chased down his first major title.
“This year definitely wasn’t as big a learning day as 2011 because that was my first time being in that position and I didn’t handle it very well, he said. “On Sunday at Augusta this year, I just didn’t quite have it.
“The mental energy that it took for me to do what I did on the Saturday, to back that up two days in a row was going to be very difficult, especially because I was starting the final day three shots behind. I needed to make a fast start and I maybe put myself under a little bit too much pressure to do that.
“But look, I shot six shots better than I did in the last round in 2011, so I must have learned something!”