Rory McIlroy is back at this week’s Travelers Championship for the second time after making his debut at TPC River Highlands last year.
With four top-5 finishes, including a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, McIlroy has enjoyed success this season. Unfortunately, he also has four missed cuts. He decided to play this week to get back into a rhythm.
“I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them,” McIlroy said during his Wednesday press conference. “That’s a bit disappointing, I guess, but at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year. In terms of what I’ve worked on and what I needed to do from last year into this year, I feel like I’ve improved in certain areas, which is good.
“But obviously I — you get anyone up here would tell you that they’ve probably wanted to do better than they’ve done this year. But there’s still a lot of golf left. Whatever it is, one win and six or seven top 10s or whatever it may be. But I’ve given myself chances to win. I’ve played myself into quite a few final groups, so that’s been good. And it’s just a matter of trying to keep doing that and putting yourself in positions and see if you can step through the door and get a few more wins.”
McIlroy closed with a 64 last year at the Travelers in his debut to finish t-17. He’s ready to return to competition after missing the cut at the U.S. Open.
“Some guys endured that mental test for four days, and some others like me endured it for two,” McIlroy said. “I wasn’t beaten up too badly compared to some of the guys.
“But I think just, again, getting to a PGA Tour event where it’s more familiar to you in terms of golf course setup and surroundings and all that stuff, I think that’s why this tournament works so well, because it is directly after a week like last week and guys can get back into a normal routine, whether it’s seeing good golf shots being rewarded or putting some red numbers on the board, that sort of stuff. It just gets you back into a nice routine, and obviously it makes you feel a bit better about yourself when you’re shooting some under-par scores.”
The golf world was turned on its head this weekend when fan-favorite Phil Mickelson hit a golf ball before it came to rest, seemingly disrespecting the USGA for its setup at Shinnecock Hills. McIlroy said everyone is overreacting.
“I was practicing when it happened,” McIlroy said of Mickelson’s apology. “When I came back in, I saw what happened. Honestly, I laughed. I felt there was a massive overreaction to it. Knowing Phil, he knew what he was doing. Look, it’s — a player that’s been in that head space at that tournament, I can see it happening to people.
“Look, it’s a tournament that Phil has come so close to winning over the past few years. He’s probably seen what’s happened over the past few years at that tournament, and it’s frustrated him because it’s the only one that he hasn’t won, plus it’s probably becoming the hardest one to win for anyone because it is a bit of a lottery at times.
“I don’t know if I’d go to the lengths that he went to to make a statement like that, but I thought there was a massive overreaction to it.”