Cape Town - Having had to work really hard to
finally return to the winner's circle at Sawgrass on Sunday, Rory
McIlroy reckons it was all worth it in the end.
In the weeks leading up to his Players Championship win, McIlroy came
under some intense scrutiny from fans and pundits for his tendency to
play himself into the final group on Sunday only to fall at the last
The Northern Irishman put himself in that position again on Sunday,
but this time there was to be no near miss, as a final-round
two-under-par 70 saw him claim a one-shot victory over Jim Furyk.
McIlroy showed impressive character down the stretch to bounce back
from a double-bogey at the fourth and a bogey at the 14th, even as
thoughts of another final-round disappointment must have flashed through
But he responded like a true champion with birdies at the 15th and
16th and two rock-solid pars at the tricky 17th and 18th to seal the
"I think all the experiences I've had over
the last few weeks in terms of trying to win and not getting over the
line definitely helped me today," he said afterwards.
"Maybe if I hadn't have had those experiences, I wouldn't be sitting
up here with this trophy, so I'm thankful and grateful for those
experiences I've had this year. Yes, it would have been nice to maybe
get another win, but it sort of made it all worth it, the fact that this
win has come at this golf tournament, a tournament where Sawgrass and I
didn't have the greatest relationship starting off, and I'm very
thankful to the PGA Tour for putting it back to March. That was very
helpful for me. Thank you.
"I'm just really proud of myself, the way I played the last few
holes, especially after bogeying the 14th from the middle of the
"The second shot on 15 to set up that birdie putt was the best shot
of the day by far. And then how I played the last few holes, I birdied
16, kept telling myself on the way to the 17th tee, just make three more
good swings. That's all you need to do, make a good swing in here, two
good swings at the last, and this thing is yours, and to step up and
make those three good swings, it's very satisfying knowing that it's in
there when it needs to be.
"Very proud, very honoured to be able to call myself a Players
champion, a tournament I haven't won before, so great to obviously add
to the CV."
McIlroy could hardly have asked for a better lead-up to next month's
Masters, when he will go in search of a career Grand Slam that has thus
far proved elusive.