Belfast Telegraph

Rory McIlroy recalls Masters fiasco with Alex Ferguson and Jimmy Nesbitt

By Robin Schiller

Northern Ireland golf star Rory McIlroy has revealed he spent the last five holes of the 2011 Masters "thinking about what to say" to the awaiting media over his implosion.

McIlroy, who is preparing for the Irish Open at the prestigious K-Club over the weekend, had raced into the lead at the tournament but slowly let it slip away.

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Co Down native McIlroy was speaking at An Evening with Rory McIlroy at the Convention Centre in Dublin.

McIlroy's low points were brought up, including his implosion at the 2011 Augusta Masters.

A video of his last holes were shown, with Rory exclaiming: "I haven't actually watched that back until now".

"I wasn't thinking clearly enough to do anything about it, it was such a shock and the first time I was going for the Masters.

"I realised that, what had happened... I would be asked about it, so I basically spent the last five holes thinking about what I was going to say," McIlroy said with a laugh.

"That's why my interview was so good after, because I had an hour and a half to think about it."

But he overcame the setback and has won several high-profile tournaments since, including the 2014 Open Championship.

He said as a teenager he nearly walked away from the game that would make him a global icon. "I remember when I was 16, I said, 'I don't want to do this (play golf) any more'. I was a typical teenager, stroppy... I wasn't getting to spend enough time with my friends, I was driving to golf tournaments around the country and wasn't really enjoying it," McIlroy said.

However, his parents, who Rory attributes an enormous amount of his success to, persuaded him to continue playing.

"My dad was and still is one of the biggest influences; both my parents are, in a golfing sense.

"My dad introduced me to the game and brought me to the driving range on his only day off, while my mother was the disciplinarian; she didn't let me away with too much," he said.

The event was hosted by Co Antrim actor James Nesbitt, with legendary Manchester United football manager Sir Alex Ferguson also taking the stage. Sir Alex discussed his career including his unprecedented treble-winning season in 1999.

He praised former captain Roy Keane as a "warrior".

Sir Alex also weighed in on the debate over the best player of the current generation - Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Messi... Ronaldo used to stand in front of the mirror in the changing room looking at himself, and the other players would be throwing jock straps at him," Ferguson joked, before adding: "He was a great player."

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