Rory McIlroy moves to clarify his Major remarks
McIlroy says comments that he didn’t care about the British and US Opens were not his true feelings
Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on the second hole during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy moved to clarify remarks he made about the British and US Open tournaments after finishing his first round at the Wells Fargo Championships in North Carolina on Thursday.
In the build-up to the tournament at Quail Hollow, McIlroy had reflected on the disappointing end to his Masters tournament, where he closed with a two-over 74 to finish in a tie for fifth behind winner Patrick Reed, despite looking on course to challenge for the Green Jacket that would complete a career Grand Slam.
In his pre-tournament press conference in Charlotte, McIlroy said: “The Masters has now become the biggest golf tournament in the world and I’m comfortable saying that,” adding: “I don’t care about the US Open or the Open Championship, it is the biggest golf tournament in the world, the most amount of eyeballs, the most amount of hype, everything is at Augusta.”
After an opening 68 left him one shot off the early clubhouse lead in North Carolina, McIlroy returned to the point.
Speaking about the British and US Opens, McIlroy told Sky Sports: “When I said I don’t care, of course I care, of course I care – I’m a very proud winner of both of those tournaments – but I just think, you know the Open and the US Open for a long time were the biggest golf tournaments in the world and I just think that with everything that happens around Augusta I think it’s just a . . . it’s one of the four Major championships but I’ve always felt there’s just a different feeling there.
“I think it might be we go back to the same place every year, they keep making improvements every year. And the long wait, and it’s going to get even longer, from the Open Championship next year until the Masters is going to be nine months!”
The new Major schedule will see the USPGA Championships move to a date in May from 2019, with Bethpage Black set to host the event from May 16th to 19th next year.
McIlroy, who turns 29 on Friday, believes the change in the Major calendar will only add to the appeal of the Masters.
“There’s a lot of hype around it, there’s a lot going on, it’s the most anticipated of the year I guess, that’s what I was trying to say. Look it’s nothing to do with I don’t care, of course I care, I would take one of those two tournaments right now if you gave them to me this year.
“I was just trying to say from where those two tournaments stood, you know maybe 50 years ago. The Masters wasn’t quite at that point but I think over the last five or 10 years, even since I’ve started to play Augusta, it feels like they’ve just taken it to a new level.”