McIlroy Overcomes Sunday Demons To Win Players Championship

Rory McIlroy has gotten off to one of the best starts of his already-storied career on the PGA Tour in 2019, but a concerning trend began to take hold over the first few months of the year.

Despite finishing in the top-6 of each of his five previous starts this year, McIlroy’s trophy case wasn’t getting any more crowded leading a narrative to take hold that questioned how well the 29-year-old Northern Irishman could close out tournaments. 

Those questions and Sunday demons were roundly dispelled on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass as McIlroy recovered from an early-round double bogey to play his final 14 holes in 4-under par to edge Jim Furyk by a stroke to win his first Players Championship.

“I’ve been disciplined this year in not reading a lot of stuff about myself, so that has helped because I haven’t read any of the negativity or anything that,” McIlroy said.  “Obviously, I know that it’s going to happen because of who I am and what I’ve done in the past or whatever, but I really have left each tournament happy.

“Kapalua I had a chance, but Xander (Schauffele) shoots 11-under and Mexico, DJ does what he does. LA, not birdieing 17 and then bogeying the last, that was a little bit painful, but when you reflect on the week, you have to reflect on the 72 holes and not just the last two holes you played, and every time I reflected on the 72 I’ve played, I’ve been pretty happy.

“I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do. I looked at my stats at the end of every week. I’m leading strokes gained tee to green, I’m putting well, my around the greens is good. Everything was in a really good place, and that’s why I was just preaching patience, and it was just a matter of time.”

The next step for McIlroy will come in just three weeks time as the PGA Tour season marches towards Augusta National. McIlroy ended a year-long winless drought, but his next challenge comes as he looks to win his first major championship since 2014 and complete the career grand slam. 

“I feel like I’ve managed the first six weeks or six tournaments of the year very well, even with some noise around me,” McIlroy said. “Whether it is he can’t close, he can’t play on Sundays, blah, blah, blah. I’ve just got to do my thing, and if I go and I concentrate on me, control what I can do, good golf and good attitude takes care of the rest. 

“If I go to Augusta with a similar golf game to what I have now and the attitude I’ve shown over the first few weeks of the year, I think I’ll have a great chance.”