MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Rory McIlroy was admittedly taken aback by the outpouring of support he received during the Open Championship at Royal Portrush, where he fell just short of making the cut in the year’s final major and choked back tears afterward.
“I had to probably stop myself from crying about four times on the back nine not because of the situation I found myself in, but just because of the support,” he said Tuesday from the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Classic. “I just sort of had to take a step back and be like, Wow, I sort of mean a lot to these people, and that felt really good.”
What felt less good to McIlroy were his results in the year’s four majors, something that has him re-thinking his approach going forward.
Yes, he had a pair of top-10 finishes, at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black and the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, but he was basically a non-factor in all of them, with a T-21 at the Masters his other result.
It has now been five full years since the 30-year-old four-time major champion last won a major, his last coming at the 2014 PGA at Valhalla.
“I think I’ve learned a lot in the four majors this year in terms of how I’ve started, how I’ve played in them, how I’ve tried to approach them,” he said. “I almost tried to downplay the majors this year, tried to treat them like every other event and I’ve realized they’re not, they’re not like any other event. You need to have a certain mind-set, you need to prepare differently.
“I tried a sort of different strategy this year, it didn’t quite work for me. Just have to reassess that going forward.”
McIlroy ranked 20th in World Ranking points earned in the majors in 2019, behind, among others, Chez Reavie, Matt Wallace and Patrick Cantlay, all of whom have a combined zero major wins between them.
The good news for McIlroy? He has won twice this season and has just four finishes outside the top 10 in 15 starts in 2019. The bad news? He’ll have nearly nine long months to reassess his major strategy.