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Rory McIlroy needed 'three or four days' to get over Open loss

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Rory McIlroy – predictably – experienced a letdown following his emotional ending to the 150th Open.

After taking the 54-hole lead, McIlroy shot 70 on the final day and was passed by Cameron Smith on the back nine, denying him of that elusive fifth major at one of golf’s most storied venues.

“That [Sunday] night was tough; the few days after it were OK, I guess,” McIlroy told reporters Wednesday at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, where he’s making his first start since The Open. “It probably took me three or four days to sort of get back to myself again.”

Following the year’s final major, McIlroy spent two full weeks across the pond, vacationing around London. He didn’t touch a club. Didn’t hit the gym. Didn’t eat as healthy as usual.

It was a total reset.

“It was nice to take that little break,” he said. “I felt like I needed it. I feel refreshed and ready to go for the playoffs.”

While reflecting on his close call at St. Andrews, McIlroy said that he was comforted by the fact that he didn’t blow it with a poor final round. He shot 18 under par across four rounds, but he just didn’t play as well as he would have liked on the last day, his only birdies coming on two-putts and failing to get up-and-down in crucial spots. That allowed Smith to overcome a four-shot deficit and card a back-nine 30 to earn his first major title.

“I didn’t lose it,” McIlroy said. “I think that’s what made it a little easier to get over. … It’s not as if I went out there and shot 75. I went and played a solid round of golf, didn’t get as much out of it as I was hoping for, but I think because of how I played, it made it, I guess, a little easier to get over.”

A reporter asked if the Open loss was actually more frustrating, though, considering he didn’t do much wrong and still didn’t take home the claret jug.

“I think it’s more, if I keep playing like that in major championships, the law of averages suggests that I’m going to get myself back in the winner’s circle eventually,” said McIlroy, whose aggregate scores in the four majors this year (all top-10s) was eight shots better than any other player.

“I played really solid. I shot 18 under par around St. Andrews for four days, and it wasn’t quite good enough to get the job done. If I keep playing the way I’ve been playing in the bigger tournaments, the law of averages would suggest that I’m going to get myself a trophy at some point.”