It will cost Rory McIlroy $3m for missing last month’s RBC Heritage but he had no complaints as he got back to action at Quail Hollow.
The players are allowed to miss one designated event and McIlroy chose to not play the season-opening Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. Then, after his missed cut at Augusta and months of being asked the same old question, he chose to sidestep Hilton Head.
“Obviously, after the disappointment of Augusta, and it’s been a pretty taxing 12 months mentally, so it was nice to just try to disconnect and get away from it,” he said. “But it’s nice to come back and feel refreshed and I think we’re on a pretty busy run here from now until after the play-offs so I’m excited to get going.
“I think it was a combination of a few things, and just after the disappointment of Augusta and how I played there, it was just more for my mental and emotional wellbeing I just needed to be at home for those few weeks but, as I said, looking forward to getting back this week,” added the 33-year-old.
McIlroy has become the tour’s unofficial spokesperson in recent times but that didn’t count for much, with the rules being the rules.
“If a player is going to miss a second [designated] event to reset and refresh then he knew the consequences of that,” Monahan said. “Players should be able to make a decision not to play, that’s the beauty of our model.
“When we made the commitment to this schedule, we adjusted to one opt-out. For any second opt-out you forfeited the 25 percent unless there was a medical issue,” Monahan said. “Based on that criteria it’s fairly cut and dry."
There were no complaints from McIlroy as he will forfeit the final 25 per cent of his PIP payout – he received the initial 75 per cent, which was $12m, at the start of the year.
“I knew the consequences that could come with missing one of those. It was an easy decision. It was worth that for me to get some other things in place. I had my reasons to not play Hilton Head and I’ve expressed those to Jay Monahan. Whether he thinks that’s enough to warrant – again I understood the consequences of that decision before I did it. So whatever happens, happens.”
As for his performance at Augusta this was the first time that he had spoken about his efforts, as he missed the cut by two shots. On the Wednesday afternoon he had shot five under on the back nine and he had let his mind wander to completing the Grand Slam.
“Me thinking that way isn’t a good thing,” the four-time major winner said. “All I should be thinking about is that first shot on Thursday. You need to stay in the present moment and I feel like at Augusta I didn’t quite do a good job of that because of how well I came in playing. I maybe got ahead of myself a little bit.
“It sucked. It sucked. It’s not the performance I thought I was going to put up. Nor was it the performance I wanted. Just incredibly disappointing. But I needed some time to regroup and focus on what’s ahead. It’s been a big 12 months and I don’t know if I fully reflected on stuff. I never really got a chance to really think about the Open and St Andrews and everything that went on there. It was nice to have three weeks to just put all that stuff in the rear view mirror and just try to focus on what’s ahead.”