'I don't care about The Open, the Masters is bigger' – McIlroy
Rory McIlroy believes the Masters has now eclipsed the other major championships as “the biggest golf tournament in the world”.
The world number seven plays the first tournament since his final-round 74 at Augusta when he competes at the Wells Fargo Championship this week.
“I don’t care about the US Open or The Open Championship,” said McIlroy.
“The most amount of eyeballs, the most amount of hype, everything is at Augusta.”
He added: “For me it’s the most special tournament that we play and it’s the one everyone desperately wants to win, but even if I was going for my first major, it’s still tough to win.”
McIlroy has won three of the four majors with the Masters the only one to elude him.
TV box sets
The Northern Irishman began the final round of the Masters in second place and three shots behind the eventual winner Patrick Reed, but he finished tied for fifth after another dispiriting performance.
He took a week off to binge-watch TV box sets and study psychology books such as ‘The Chimp Paradox’ and ‘Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less’, which helped to ease his disappointment.
“It was just the quiet moments when you’re staring off into the distance and thinking about a certain shot or a certain putt, so it got to the point where I needed to see a bit of daylight and start to do my normal things,” admitted McIlroy.
“Once I got back into my routine I was fine. I was disappointed because I just didn’t give a good account of myself on that final day.
“I got lucky on that Saturday, that 65 was as good as I could have scored.
“I chipped in, there were a couple of balls that hit trees and came back into the fairway, hit it up into the azaleas and got away with it.
“I was sort of holding my game together and on Sunday – under the pressure of chasing Patrick down – it just never clicked for me.”
Start of a busy stretch
The four-time major winner will celebrate his 29th birthday this week at Quail Hollow, which has proved a happy hunting ground for him in the past.
He has twice been a winner at the North Carolina course – in 2010, his first PGA Tour victory, and in 2015 – and he has also posted top-10 finishes on five other occasions.
“It’s always nice to come back to a golf course and an event where you’ve played well before and you have some really good memories and luckily this week is one of those weeks for me,” he added.
McIlroy, who will play alongside Englishman Paul Casey and American James Hahn for the opening round, is one of the favourites to win this week.
“I’ve played it well and it’s one of those golf courses that sets up well for me, it fits my eye. I feel like I can play my game around here and that served me pretty well over the years,” he said.
“So hopefully this week is another good week and the start of a pretty busy stretch for me so I am looking forward to kicking that off in a positive fashion.”