Rory McIlroy returned to the PGA Tour this week after a three-week absence following a disappointing run at Augusta National.
McIlroy withdrew from the RBC Heritage after missing the cut at the Masters, which marked his second missed designated event of the season. He told Barstool’s Dan Rapaport on Tuesday that he did so because of a “private matter,” but didn’t get any more specific than that.
“I needed a break for me,” McIlroy told the Golf Channel. “Obviously, after the disappointment of Augusta, and it’d been a pretty taxing 12 months mentally, so it was nice to just try to disconnect and get away from it. But it’s nice to come back and feel refreshed. I think I’m in a better headspace than I was.”
McIlroy missed the cut at the Masters after posting a 5-over 77 in the second round. The event is the last he needs to complete the Career Grand Slam, something only five other golfers have done. McIlroy, however, hasn’t won a major championship since 2014.
He then withdrew from the RBC Heritage the following week for unspecified reasons. McIlroy skipped the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January. Players ranked inside the top 20 of the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program are required to participate in all but one of the new designated events each season. Since he’s now missed two, McIlroy may not be eligible for the PIP bonus at the end of the season.
"My mind wouldn't have been there," McIlroy said of the RBC Heritage, via ESPN. "It was more important for me to be at home than there."
McIlroy is currently ranked No. 3 in the Official World Golf Rankings. He is the highest-ranked golfer in the field this week at Quail Hollow Club, so a strong performance could help close the gap on that front.
After a bit of a rough stretch, having missed two cuts in his last three starts, McIlroy is hoping the break was just what he needed to get going again ahead of the second major of the season, the PGA Championship, later this month.
“You know, that run-up to Augusta is always a stressful enough couple of weeks trying to make sure everything’s in the right order and making sure your game’s in good shape,” he said. “I think for me it was a nice reset because I still had to realize that there’s three more majors this year. There’s a ton left to play for.”