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Players champ Rory recalls being kicked out of Jax Beach bars at 19

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – He’s still shy of his 30th birthday, but Rory McIlroy has come a long way in his Players Championship career.

McIlroy outlasted the strongest field of the year to win the PGA Tour’s flagship event, shooting a final-round 70 to edge Jim Furyk by a shot. It was his first win in more than a year and continued a run of six straight top-6 finishes.

But McIlroy and the Stadium Course haven’t always gotten along. He missed the cut in each of his first three trips here, even skipping the event back in 2011 to focus his efforts in Europe. A candid champ reflected on the journey that led to his first Players title in his 10th start.


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“I mean, I came here as a 19-year-old in 2009, missing the cut and getting kicked out of bars in Jax Beach for being underage,” McIlroy said. “So I’ve come a long way in those 10 years.”

Two months from turning 30, McIlroy no longer has to worry about being carded. He also won’t have to worry about affording many bar tabs after taking home $2.25 million for his victory Sunday at TPC Sawgrass.

“I came on Tour and all I wanted to do was keep my card,” he said. “And from there, you grow and you learn and you become a better player, and you realize that there’s a lot more that you can achieve. I think all the experience I’ve racked up over those first 10 or 11 years means that I’m way more prepared for these next 10.”