Rory McIlroy has long been one of the most candid players on Tour, but he took time on Thursday to clarify what he said the day before about the U.S. and British Opens.
“I don’t care about the U.S. Open or the Open Championship,” he said during his press conference Wednesday, prior to the start of the Wells Fargo Championship. “(The Masters) is the biggest tournament in the world.”
After a three-under 68 on Thursday at Quail Hollow, McIlroy added a little more context.
“I didn’t mean it like that at all. I sort of was trying to say if you look at where the U.S. Open and the Open were compared to the Masters 50 years ago, they were bigger golf tournaments,” he said. “Now I think after everything that’s happened over the past 50 years and the improvements that Augusta makes year on year, I feel like the amount of time between the last major of the season, the first major of the season, the hype, the eyeballs, the everything — it’s just a notch above the other ones. I don’t know if that’s because we return to the same venue every year and there’s a nostalgic feeling for everyone because of that, but that’s what I was trying to say.”
McIlroy has won four majors in his career — two PGA Championships, a U.S. Open and a British Open. The Masters has been his elusive prize and the only event preventing him from completing the career grand slam. In his last start before the Wells Fargo, McIlroy shot 74 in the final round of the Masters and finished six behind winner Patrick Reed. He started the day three behind Reed and in the final pairing.
“I’m a proud winner of (the U.S. Open and British Open),” he said Thursday. “I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful at all. I was just trying to say that from where those tournaments were in stature in this game to where now the Masters is, I feel like the Masters has replaced those two tournaments.”