If there was a time it'd be perfectly acceptable to blow off reporters and vent in frustration, Sunday was it for Rory McIlroy. The 22-year-old from Ireland took a four-shot lead into the final round, only to see it evaporate as Tiger Woods and the rest of the field applied an immense amount of pressure on Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club. McIlroy didn't have his 'A' game, as evidenced by his wayward tee shots, missed short putts and a fall from the leaderboard that became difficult to watch.
McIlroy fan or not -- and I'm not sure how you can't be -- Sunday was tough to watch as he completely melted down in front of the viewing audience. He was fine after the first nine, and escaped at only 1-over after making birdie on No. 7, but the worst was lurking beyond the 10th fairway. From a solo lead to an afterthought, McIlroy's fall was swift, yet felt as if it was in slow motion.
McIlroy sent his tee shot on No. 10 into a place many didn't know existed, so far off the fairway it landed near the cabins rarely seen. From there it got even worse as he struggled to even make it to the green, much less in the hole. A triple-bogey seven dropped him out of contention, effectively ending his day.
He added a bogey on No. 11, a double-bogey on No. 12, a bogey on No. 13 and another bogey on No. 15 to card a final round 80. The world would've understood if he screamed in frustration, ignored the green-side interview or locked himself in a dark room. But he didn't, and that alone shows exactly what the youngster is made of.
On the edge of the 18th green, just after finishing his mess of a final round, McIlroy said his day will make him stronger, and he'll be back. He answered every question, spoke to every reporter in the locker room after and never let out an ounce of frustration while handling his media responsibilities after a final round that would make anyone want to shrivel up and hide.
McIlroy will be back and his performance off the golf course was one many golfers could learn a less from. Even in his darkest golfing moment, McIlroy displayed grace and showed an incredible amount of character.