Rory McIlroy explains decision to skip event, accept $3 million fine after Masters flop: ‘Mind wouldn’t have been there’.

July 8, 2024

Rory McIlroy is playing in the Wells Fargo Championship this week, marking his first PGA Tour event since he missed the cut at the 2023 Masters in early April.

In his first news conference since his disappointing finish at the Masters, McIlroy did not mince words about how his last defeat at a major felt.

“It sucked. It sucked,” McIlroy told Tuesday, per ESPN. “It’s not the performance I obviously thought I was going to put up, nor was it the performance I wanted. Just incredibly disappointing.”

McIlroy entered the year’s first major tournament as the favorite to win the green jacket. Doing so would have completed his career grand slam, a feat he has been vying for since he won his third leg — The Open Championship — in 2014.

Instead, he shot a cumulative 5-over through his first two rounds to miss the cut by a wide margin. After that, McIlroy decided to take a few weeks off from the PGA Tour to get his mind right.

“I needed some time to regroup,” he explained. “And focus on what’s ahead.”

McIlroy opted not to play in the PGA Tour’s three ensuing events after the Masters. That drew some controversy, as the event immediately following the Masters — the RBC Heritage — was a designated event with a purse of $20 million.

McIlroy’s non-participation in that event resulted in him being fined a whopping $3 million by the PGA Tour. Why? Because he had already skipped one of the tour’s designated events earlier in the season. And by rule, top players who skip more than one designated event will surrender 25 percent of the bonuses they earned through the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program (PIP) in 2022.

McIlroy had made $12 million from the PIP last season, thus constituting the $3 million fine. It could have been waived by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, but he declined to do so.

Still, as McIlroy explained, he believed the decision not to play in Hilton Head was worth it “in order to get some things in place.”

“My mind wouldn’t have been there,” he said. “It was more important for me to be at home than there.”

And now, McIlroy will return to the course for the first time since his Masters letdown having had time to look back on what he described as “a big 12 months.”

“I don’t know if I fully like sat down to really reflect on stuff,” he explained. “I never really had a chance to think about The Open at St. Andrews and everything that went on there.

“Just ton of different stuff, and it was nice to have three weeks to just put all that stuff in the rearview mirror and just sort of try to focus on what’s ahead: three more majors, the entire golf season still to play. It was a good three weeks to sort of do all that and get refreshed and get ready for the next three months.”

McIlroy will be the favorite when the Wells Fargo Championship tees off on Thursday. It will be interesting to see if he shows any signs of rust after a few weeks away from the course or if he looks rejuvenated having had time to recuperate.