Rory McIlroy admitted he was looking forward to seeing the back of his golf clubs for a few days after failing to land the jackpot in Atlanta.
Victory in the Tour Championship would have seen McIlroy also win the overall FedEx Cup title and enjoy an amazing payday, but the world number one struggled to a closing 71 as playing partner Billy Horschel won both prizes instead.
McIlroy and Horschel started the day tied for the lead but the Northern Irishman’s chances suffered a massive blow when he found water on the sixth to double bogey, while he also dropped shots on the ninth, 10th and 11th.
“I was making bad swings at the wrong time and getting punished for them,” McIlroy told Sky Sports 4. “When Billy was making bogey on 10 I thought I had a decent chance and then I three-putt there for the second day in a row and I felt like any chance I had to win the golf tournament went.”
Asked about his season overall, McIlroy added: “To win two majors, my first WGC event and give it a real good run in these FedEx events, I’m really proud of myself the way I hung in there and dug deep the last few weeks. When I look back on the year as a whole it’s been my best year to date so I can’t complain.”
The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles from September 26-28 now looms large and McIlroy added: “I’m excited about it. I’m excited to take a few days off to be honest and then I will gear up for the Ryder Cup.
“Right now I just want to get a bit of rest and not see my golf clubs for a few days. I want to be itching to get back on the range at the end of the week.”
Horschel will not be in the United States’ team at Gleneagles as his brilliant run of form came after Tom Watson had chosen his three wild cards, the 27-year-old missing the cut in the first play-off event but then finishing runner-up in the Deutsche Bank Championship and winning the BMW Championship.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Horschel, whose closing 68 gave him a three-shot win over McIlroy and Jim Furyk, who was tied for the lead with three holes remaining but bogeyed the 17th and 18th after Horschel reclaimed the lead with a birdie on the 15th.
“I remember flying home (after The Barclays) and talking to my wife. She said you’re probably just waiting until the season is over because it hasn’t been a great year and I sort of was, but at the same time I knew my game was in the right shape and I just needed to get out of my own way, allow my golf game to show and it has showed the last three weeks.”