Rory McIlroy said Wednesday that he "doesn't care about the U.S. or British Open," but he clarified his intent Thursday.
After posting an impressive three-under 68 in the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship, Rory McIlroy clarified some eye-raising comments he made in his pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday.
McIlroy, who needs only to win the Masters to become just the sixth player to win the modern career Grand Slam, was speaking about his disappointing final-round performance in this year's Masters when he revealed just how special he views the year's first major at Augusta.
"I don't care about the U.S. Open or the Open Championship," he said. "(The Masters) is the biggest tournament in the world."
It was certainly a jarring sentence to read, particularly when you consider McIlroy's history at those two tournaments.
The Northern Irishman won his first major at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, where he set a tournament scoring record by shooting 16-under par en route to an eight-stroke victory. McIlroy, a four-time major winner in total, won the 2014 British Open at Royal Liverpool. He had a legitimate chance to complete the career Grand Slam last month at Augusta, where he entered the final round just three shots behind Patrick Reed. He would shoot 74 and finish in a tie for 5th, a full six shots behind Reed.
I posited yesterday that McIlroy employed a poor choice of words, and that he didn't mean he doesn't care about 50% of golf's major championships. That's exactly the message he conveyed Thursday.
"I didn't mean it like that at all," McIlroy told reporters. "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. 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."
He wasn't finished clarifying what he meant, but he also didn't back down on his stance that Augusta has surpassed golf's other three marquee events.
"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."
McIlroy will tee off in his second round at Quail Hollow at 12:40 p.m. Friday.