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Ryder Cup misery ‘I was done with golf, I didn’t want to see it again until 2022’ – Rory McIlroy

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Rory McIlroy celebrates after winning the CJ Cup in Las Vegas on Sunday night. Photo: Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

Rory McIlroy celebrates after winning the CJ Cup in Las Vegas on Sunday night. Photo: Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

Rory McIlroy celebrates after winning the CJ Cup in Las Vegas on Sunday night. Photo: Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

Pádraig Harrington was quick on the uptake when asked if Rory McIlroy needed “a lift” on the eve of the Ryder Cup singles at Whistling Straits.

No, I think he’s already back at the hotel,” the Dubliner quipped through gritted teeth as he contemplated an 11-5 deficit with McIlroy nursing three defeats from three having been dropped that morning for the first time in his Ryder Cup career.

The truth was that McIlroy was devastated by his performance in Wisconsin, as he readily admitted in Las Vegas on Sunday night after he made up for indifferent approach play – the worst by a winner in some 600 events – with brilliant driving and even better putting to claim the CJ Cup and his 20th PGA Tour win.

It wasn’t perfect by any means but it’s taken six months for McIlroy to realise he doesn’t have to be perfect.

“When it boils down to it, all you need to do out there is hit the shots,” he said at The Summit, where a closing 66 gave him a one-shot win over Collin Morikawa. “Sometimes I forgot that in a quest to try to be too perfect probably, but this week was a great reminder that you don’t need to be perfect to be a great golfer.”

He was in a far darker place at Whistling Straits after he lost his first three matches.

“I was done with golf,” he admitted. “I didn’t want to see golf again until 2022. Then I talked about that Sunday singles match and that sort of sparked a little bit of a flame again.”

While he won the Wells Fargo Championship in early May, just a few weeks after swapping long-time coach Michael Bannon for Pete Cowen, McIlroy was far from his best for the remainder of the summer, complaining how little return he was seeing for so much work.

It remains to be seen if he will move away from Cowen and consult more with boyhood coach Bannon. But he clearly realised in beating Xander Schauffele in the singles at the Ryder Cup that he already had all the tools.

“I think part of the emotion at the end of it was to do with that week, but it was also probably to do with the last few months in terms of searching to try to get better and the realisation that I don’t need to search for anything, it’s all right here,” McIlroy said of his tears at Whistling Straits.

“I wasn’t trying to be perfect, I wasn’t trying to hit shots that I wasn’t comfortable hitting, I just went out there to try to win my match and I did.”

Up from 14th to eighth in the world, he now takes four weeks off before the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to formulate a plan for 2022.

“I know that when I do the things that I do well, I’m capable of winning a lot of events on the PGA Tour and being the best player in the world,” he said.

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“It’s just a matter of me getting back to playing golf and playing golf my way. That starts with being creative and being visual and maybe sifting through the technical thoughts and not being as technical with it.”

While it all sounds like a move away from Cowen, McIlroy was more conciliatory on the subject last week.

“There’s certainly been things in my game that have improved since I started to work with Pete,” he said before adding that “Michael… doesn’t miss a shot of mine”.

“I guess the next four weeks after here I’ve got time to work on my game and see where everything is,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll be speaking to both of them and sort of planning a way forward.”

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