Rory McIlroy blames mental fatigue for 'too many mistakes' at European Masters
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 02/09/19 8:20am
Rory McIlroy is looking forward to taking a much-needed break after his second appearance at the Omega European Masters ended the same as the first - defeat in a play-off.
Playing in his seventh tournament in a punishing eight-week stretch, McIlroy conceded that his tally of 14 bogeys over the week at Crans-sur-Sierre were the result of mental fatigue as he reflected on another agonising near-miss.
McIlroy started the week determined to atone for his disappointment at missing out on a maiden European Tour win in 2008, when the raw teenager missed a five-foot putt for victory and then a simple tap-in for par on the first play-off hole as he gifted the trophy to Jeff Lucquin.
In his return to Crans Montana 11 years later, the 30-year-old appeared to be fading out of contention when he made his fourth bogey of the final round at the 10th, although he then surged back up the leaderboard with five birdies in six holes before scrambling a magnificent par at the last.
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McIlroy's save got him into a five-man play-off on 14 under, and he installed himself as favourite to lift the title when he recovered from a pulled tee shot into the left rough back on the 18th with a stunning second to six feet.
But Sebastian Soderberg holed his birdie chance from 10 feet and McIlroy's tentative putt lacked the required pace to hold its line and his ball grazed the left edge of the cup, and Soderberg was crowned champion when Kalle Soderberg failed to convert his excellent approach to four feet.
"Too many mistakes," was McIlroy's forthright assessment of his performance. "I think I made 13 bogeys during the week. I made enough birdies, but I just didn't have it over the weekend.
"I obviously made a good run over the back nine today, but that last putt lacked a bit of speed. I felt like I started on the right line I just didn't hit it with the pace I wanted.
"But it's been another solid week, coming back across the Atlantic. Now I'm looking forward to a couple of weeks off. This is my seventh event in eight weeks, so I've played a lot of golf.
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"Playing so much, little mental errors can creep in here and there. The sloppy finish on Saturday probably cost me, but I fought back today and did my best. It just wasn't meant to be.
"I'll put the clubs away for a few days, rest, recover and reflect on what has been a pretty good season so far, and try to get myself back up for the BMW PGA at Wentworth."
Soderberg, meanwhile, was proud of the way he handled himself playing alongside McIlroy surrounded by vast galleries outside the ropes as he celebrated a "surreal" first victory in his 50th European Tour start and secured a two-year exemption.
"I'm pretty thrilled right now, hasn't really sunk in yet," said the Swede. "I felt like I was pressing down my emotions all day just to try to focus. It's unbelievable. I've dreamed of winning on the European Tour, so it's even better doing it this way.
"I was more nervous in the beginning than I was towards the back nine. Got on a good run and the ball kept going in. Just playing with Rory, there are so many people around, so playing with a guy like that adds heat to it right away.
"I proved to myself that I can play out here. I didn't really know that I was ready to win, I had a terrible start to the season and I felt like I was just trying to make my way into the top 110 and keep my card for next year. It's just a surreal way to do it."