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PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy’s wife had to drag him out of the house after Masters disaster, but he’s back ahead of Wells Fargo Championship

After a week in hiding following his fade out at Augusta, the Northern Irishman says his game is in good shape

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 May, 2018, 1:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 May, 2018, 1:21pm

After driving off Magnolia Lane following his disappointing finish in the Masters, Rory McIlroy basically went into hiding for seven days.

Upon his return home, he binge-watched a couple of shows, including Billions, got lost in a couple of psychology books – The Chimp Paradox and Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – and did everything he could to keep his mind from wandering back to Augusta National and the Masters.

It was there the four-time major winner’s chance to complete the career grand slam crumbled with a final-round 74 that left him in a tie for fifth.

His decompressing got to the point that he needed to see some daylight and his wife Erica “had to drag me out of the house and say ‘OK, we’re going to go do something’. I said ‘OK’ and once I got back in my sort of routine, I was fine,” McIlroy said ahead of this week’s Wells Fargo Championship, which he won in 2010 and 2015.

A month ago, everything looked fine as McIlroy was in prime position to win the green jacket. He started the final round in the final group, three shots behind eventual winner Patrick Reed, and he was coming off a sizzling 65 in the third round.

But then he missed a five-footer for eagle on the second and a 10-footer for par on the third and his victory march quickly came to a halt.

“I was disappointed because I just didn’t give a good account of myself the last day,” McIlroy said. “I felt that I got lucky on Saturday. That 65 was as good as I could have played.

“I got lucky, I chipped in, there were a couple of balls that hit trees and came back into the fairways, hit it up in the azaleas, I got away with it. I was sort of holding it together.

“And then obviously under the pressure of Sunday trying to chase Patrick down, it just never quite clicked for me. It was disappointing that’s the way the week finished.”

Adding to his discontent was his failure to win the one tournament he’s desperately trying to win. In short, he wants that green jacket.

“The Masters has become the biggest golf tournament in the world and I’m comfortable saying that,” said the Northern Irishman, who counts two PGA Championship titles among his four majors.

“It is the biggest tournament in the world, has the most amount of eyeballs, the most amount of hype. The most amount of everything is at Augusta.

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“For me, it’s the most special tournament that we play and it’s the one that everyone desperately wants to win, but even if I was going for my first major, it’s tough to win.

So no, I don’t think the grand slam, that’s not really what I think about. I just think about trying to win the Masters and what that means and being able to go and use the Champions Locker Room, just all the cool stuff that comes along with it.”

The Wells Fargo Championship is special to McIlroy, too. He won the first of his 14 PGA Tour titles at Quail Hollow, making the cut on the number and then closing with a 62 to win in 2010. In 2015, his 61 in the third round is the tournament record low round.

“I’ve always enjoyed the golf course through the different variations of it from 2010 all the way up until now,” said McIlroy, who ended an 18-month winless stretch with a victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.

“I’ve played it well. It’s one of those golf courses that sets up well for me. It fits my eye and I feel like I can play my game around here.

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“The game’s feeling good and hopefully I can play my way into the tournament and hopefully play my way into contention on the weekend.

“I’m excited about the next few weeks. Got some great events to look forward to, my game’s in good shape. I’m looking forward to hopefully having chances to win more tournaments.”