McIlroy, 27, was at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to see fellow Northern Irishman Frampton defeat Leo Santa Cruz on points for the WBA featherweight crown 24 hours after missing his second major cut of the year. He had crashed out of the PGA Championship with a last-hole bogey across the Hudson River in New Jersey as his bid for a fifth major title of his career was shelved for another eight months.
The Irishman has now gone two seasons without adding one and will now have to wait until next April’s Masters to try and bridge the gap from his back-to-back triumphs in 2014 at The Open and US PGA.
After the fight, McIlroy was all smiles as he told BBC Northern Ireland: “I’ve never been as nervous before at a sporting event, whether it be a Ryder Cup for myself, or watching Northern Ireland.
“When you’re there I don’t think there’s any better sport than a boxing fight, especially when two fighters are going toe to toe like the two of them were. So, nervousness, anxiety, there was a lot going on there but just glad he got the win in the end.”
The previous evening at Baltusrol, however, in the wake of a second-round 69 in which his bogey six at the 18th sent him the wrong side of the cutline, McIlroy was a picture of doom and gloom as he described his season as “disappointing”, and said he needed to go back to the drawing board after some “pathetic” putting.
Having being outplayed for two rounds by playing partner, Jason Day, McIlroy said: “I was trying to focus on myself and focus on hitting good putts and obviously give myself plenty of chances. Tee to green was good, but it was just pathetic on the green.
“I was planning on taking two weeks off and then practicing the week before Barclays (August 25). I’ll still take two weeks off from tournaments, but I’ll have to see what practice schedule looks like. I need to do something.”