CHARLOTTE, NC — Rory McIlroy says he needs a “reset” after missing out on the opportunity to play at the Masters.
That’s why the world’s third-ranked player hasn’t touched his clubs for more than two weeks, went on vacation to Manhattan with his wife, Erica, to celebrate an anniversary, and pulled out of RBC Heritage — a move that could cost him $3 million.
“It was like, ‘I need to re-evaluate where I am in my life and what’s important to me and what I need to focus my energy on,'” McIlroy said Tuesday night in his first comments to reporters in nearly a month.
This week McIlroy is playing the Wells Fargo Championships in Quail Hollow, where he is a three-time champion.
While the Masters proved to be a turning point, McIlroy said it wasn’t his play that prompted him to take a short break.
Instead, he said, other pressures have gripped the PGA Tour over the past year, which he was heavily involved with while serving as player director on the Tour Policy Council.
He had to deal with a variety of complex and time-consuming issues, including how best to deal with the defection of several top players from Saudi-funded LIV Golf.
It was a “turbulent time,” McIlroy, an outspoken opponent of LIV, said, and after getting away, he realized golf had “absolutely consumed” his life.
“I always thought I had a pretty good idea of the perspective of things and kind of what golf fit into my life, and I try to find purpose outside of golf in some way,” McIlroy said. “But I think over the last 12 months, I kind of lost sight of that. I’ve lost sight of the fact that there’s more to life than the world of golf and this silly little squabble that goes on between rounds and all sorts of things.
“So I think I gained a little bit of perspective, and once I detached from it a little bit, I was able to see things kind of more clearly where everything in my life fits. It was a good reset.”
McIlroy arrived at the Augusta National nearly a month ago hoping to complete his Grand Slam career by winning his first Masters. He felt very confident after shooting a 5-under second-nine during a practice run the day before the tournament.
Maybe too confident.
“I honestly thought I was going to get the best Masters I’ve ever had,” said McIlroy, the Augusta runner-up in 2022.
Instead, McIlroy shot 72-77, missing the cut by three hits.
He did not speak to reporters afterward because a rainstorm forced the postponement of the second round and all interviews.
“It sucked,” McIlroy said of the loss of the wound.
He withdrew from RBC Heritage the following week, a decision that could cost him $3 million of the $12 million he would have earned as part of the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program bonus.
McIlroy drew criticism for withdrawing because he was one of those who helped establish the rule that top players could only miss one of the PGA Tour’s new designated events.
Hilton Head was his second absence.
McIlroy said he hasn’t heard if PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan plans to withhold the last $3 million of his PIP bonus.
“Look, I have my reasons for not playing Hilton Head and I expressed that to Jay,” McIlroy said. “And whether he thinks this suffices to justify …
“I mean, I understood the consequences of that decision before I made it. So whatever happens happens.”
McIlroy has made it clear that he does not regret the decision.
The 33-year-old McIlroy will be hoping to regain his form this week at Quail Hollow, where he has won three times, most recently in 2021.
He’s finished in the top 10 nine times in 11 Wells Fargo tournaments — including last year at TPC Potomac in Maryland — and still holds the all-time tournament scoring record, finishing 21-under 267 in 2015, winning by seven strokes.
Quail Hollow has a special meaning for the Northern Irish. It is where he earned the first of his 23 PGA Tour victories in 2010.
“Rory has been a great ambassador for our tournament and always brings another level of excitement to the competition when he plays,” said Tournament Director Gary Supa.
McIlroy is the highest rated player on the field. Top-ranked John Ramm and second-ranked Scotty Scheffler each skip a specific event for the first time this year.