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Rory McIlroy Says 'I've Never Tried So Hard to Finish Third' After Narrowly Missing Bronze Medal

Once a harsh critic of Olympic golf, Rory McIlroy spoke fondly of his experience in Tokyo and said he looks forward to competing again at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Rory McIlroy, 2020 Olympics

Rory McIlroy shot a final-round 67 in Tokyo and narrowly missed the Olympic podium.

One upon a time, call it five years ago, Rory McIlroy was hardly a fan of Olympic golf. When many top players elected to skip the 2016 Rio Olympics while citing health concerns and scheduling issues, McIlroy seemed to pass on those Games with gusto. He said he wouldn't even watch the golf competition, and would instead tune into swimming or track. Or, as he said in a press conference in the summer of '16: "Stuff that matters."

After a thrilling finish to the 2020 competition in Tokyo, McIlroy completed his conversion to full-on fan of Olympic golf. Chasing a bronze medal didn't hurt.

McIlroy shot a final-round 67 Sunday at Kasumigaseki Country Club to finish two shots behind gold-medal winner Xander Schauffele and one behind silver-medalist Rory Sabbatini. McIlroy played in a seven-man playoff for the bronze and was eliminated on the third extra hole when he failed to match birdies with CT Pan and Collin Morikawa. 

Pan went on to win bronze. McIlroy emerged with new perspective on the Games.

"It makes me even more determined going to Paris and trying to pick one up. It's disappointing going away from here without any hardware," McIlroy said afterward. "I've been saying all day I never tried so hard in my life to finish third. But it's been a great experience, today was great day to be up there in contention for a medal, certainly had a different feeling to it than I expected, and yeah, as I said, I'm already looking forward to three years time and trying to go at least one better but hopefully three better."

McIlroy also addressed his remarks from five years ago, further emphasizing that he's all-in on the Olympic movement going forward.

"I made some comments before that were probably uneducated and impulsive, but coming here experiencing it, seeing, feeling everything that goes on, not just Olympic golf but just the Olympics in general, that sort of Olympic spirit's definitely bitten me and I'm excited how this week's turned out and excited for the future," he said.

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