Rory McIlroy shed tears after the Ryder Cup and they surprised a few, not least himself.
The Northern Irishman broke down in a post-round interview after defeating Xander Schauffele in his singles match, so distraught was he with his performances earlier in the tournament.
It is rare to see a sports star lay bare their emotions like that, but McIlroy was clearly hurt by his underperformance in such a big event.
Fast forward a few weeks, and things are looking considerably rosier for the 32-year-old, with a sensational victory in the CJ Cup in Las Vegas.
After a solid opening two rounds, McIlroy ascended to another level, carding an incredible 10-under 62 in round three, before rounding off the win with a 66 in the final round, denying Collin Morikawa, who had ramped up the pressure with an eagle on the 18th.
It’s clear that McIlory learned a lot from his Ryder Cup failures, and he’s taken a more realistic approach to this new PGA Tour season, focusing on his strengths and backing his own abilities.
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A fifth major championship title has eluded him since he won the US Open in 2014, and McIlroy feels he has spent too much time trying to change himself with a view towards winning more honours.
“There was a lot of reflection in the last couple of weeks,” McIlroy said. “This is what I need to do. I need to play golf, I need to simplify it. I need to just be me.
“I think for the last few months I was maybe trying to be someone else to try and get better. I realised that being me is enough, and being me I can do things like this.”
It was a sensational performance. After playing such an impressive third round, McIlroy was under a lot of pressure to continue that good form and get his hands on the trophy.
He demonstrated real composure in the calm surroundings of the Summit Club, which stands away from the bright lights of the Vegas Strip, and delivered a classy display that went a long way towards making up for his poor showing at Whistling Straits.
This was his 20th PGA Tour title, becoming the 39th player to do win that many, and one McIlroy should be extremely proud of, regardless of whether or not he ever adds a fifth major title to his CV.
At 32, he still has plenty of years ahead of him, and according to the betting exchange, there are plenty more titles to come.
“To get to 20 wins here is a big achievement,” Rory McIlroy added. “I didn’t know if it was going to be this week, but I knew if I just kept my head down and kept playing well and kept doing the right things that eventually I’d get there. To get a win, it’s great, it feels really good.”
It’s a far cry from the agony he endured at the Ryder Cup, proof that the highs and lows in sport are fleeting. McIlroy is more than good enough to win many more titles, and certainly good enough to land another major.
Maybe now he believes it.
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