Rory McIlroy says his missed cut at the U.S. Open might have been a blessing in disguise because it gave him an opportunity to pinpoint the issues in his game.
“You need to use the setbacks to learn and grow and move forward,” he told reporters Wednesday at the European Tour’s Open de France. “It’s very disappointing to miss the cut at the U.S. Open and forgo a chance to win another major championship. But at the same time, I had to be aggressive with a few things and it was almost like it needed to happen, just to assess everything and try to make a few changes where I needed to.”
It was just McIlroy’s third missed cut in a major since 2010. What made this early exit particularly frustrating was that after an opening 77, he had battled back inside the cut line before an inward 40, including a double bogey on his final hole. He blew out of town without speaking to reporters.
“I felt like I’ve always used setbacks well,” he said. “I’ve always learned from my mistakes and I think it’s been one of the great things about my career that any time I’ve had a setback, I’ve usually come back pretty well. There’s no reason why I can’t do that again.”
This is McIlroy’s first appearance since he announced that he would skip the Rio Games because of concerns over the Zika virus. Since then, world No. 1 Jason Day has also withdrawn from the event, and Jordan Spieth conceded Tuesday that he’s “uncertain” and needs more information.
McIlroy described his conversation with Irish captain Paul McGinley as “one of the toughest phone calls I’ve had to make,” but ultimately he defended his decision to pull out.
“I put so much work into going,” he said. “I found accommodation, sorted out a chef and security down there, got everything planned out, had the injections – and two shoulders for four days – but ultimately I thought if I’m not 100 percent comfortable going down there, I don’t want to take the risk.”
When asked whether the slew of withdrawals was embarrassing for the game, McIlroy said: “Most other athletes dream their whole lives of competing in the Olympics, winning an Olympic gold. And we haven’t. We dream of winning claret jugs and winning green jackets. … With all the negative press the game has received over the past week or so, I don’t think it’ll have any long-lasting effects, but it’s been a bit of a difficult time for golf.”