McIlroy vows to bounce back

Rory McIlroy jokingly “punished” himself for his Omega European Masters miss with a two-hour session in the gym.

But the Holywood star, 19, is determined bounce back from Sunday’s devastating play-of defeat in the Swiss Alps and grab his maiden win before the end of the season.

Up 61 places to world No 111 and guaranteed a place in the season-ending Volvo Masters, McIlroy said: “You just have to learn from your mistakes and move forward. I’m playing well enough to win.

“I feel as if I am hitting the ball better than anyone else out there so I just need to keep positive and I know my time will come.

“It’s a big learning process. I’ve done what I wanted to do this year and I’m going to be in the Volvo Masters at Valderrama and I’m nearly in the top 100 in the world, so I’m getting to where I want to be.”

McIlroy confessed that it was nerves first and then a lack of concentration that caused him to miss two vital putts at the death.

Leading by four shots entering the final round, the Ulster sensation lost his lead early on but battled back to give himself a five-footer at the last to become the third youngest winner in European Tour history.

He pulled his 72nd hole chance wide to hand Jean Francois Lucquin a play-off lifeline and then threw away the title by carelessly missing from just over a foot at the second extra hole.

But he knows exactly what went wrong and believes he will be better prepared to take advantage of any chances that come his way as he tees it up in at least another eight events between now and Christmas.

Showing maturity beyond his years, McIlroy said: “From the fourth to the 17th I played really good golf and then at 18 I thought I hit a really good second shot and it just landed on a downslope and I just didn’t get up and down.

“I think the nerves got the better of me on 18. I just peeked too soon and the right shoulder came forward and I just hit a bad putt.

“I hit a really good putt on the first play-off hole to win and did the best I could with that. I think the other one in the playoff, I was worrying about standing on his line and failed to tap it in.

“It was a lack of concentration but when he holed his putt for birdie, it made me feel a little bit better.

“In hindsight, I probably should have marked it because he wouldn’t have known if he needed to hole it or not.

“All of these are things I’ll learn for next time. Obviously it would have been lovely to win but it will make me more determined next time. It will make me appreciate it a bit more.”

Despite his obvious disappointment, McIlroy hasn’t lost his sense of humour, joking that he would spend Monday afternoon in the gym “to punish myself."

And he can’t wait to get back out on tour for the British Masters at the Belfry in two weeks, followed by the Dunhill Links at St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie, where he has great memories of his third place finish last year.

He added: “If I’d won yesterday I’d have been in the HSBC Champions but hopefully I’ll be able to get in there by the end of the season.

“I am really looking forward to the Dunhill. I feel as if it’s a good chance for me to do well again. I love all three golf courses and I play well around them.

“I’ve got some great memories of Carnoustie at The Open and St Andrews last year. And I’ve never shot over 70 at Kingsbarns.”

McIlroy’s manager Chubby Chandler and European Tour veteran Mark Roe are convinced that while McIlroy might have missed a tiddler in the Alps, the teenager will go on to become one of Europe’s golfing giants.

Chandler said: “This defeat might hold back Rory's progress - but not for long. He's disappointed because he had two big chances. But Rory's showed what an unbelievable young talent he is and it's still just a matter of what he's going to win.

“He's not just a good player, he's outstandingly good and he conducts himself so well. He also learns quick and he will quickly bounce back from this disappointment.

“He's just an exciting player so much so that Rory reminds me of a young Seve.”

Roe saw all the European greats up close over the course of a 25-year career before moving into television as a commentator.

And he too is convinced that McIlroy has the talent to become a truly great player.

Roe said: “He is truly, potentially a great player. Not just a good player, not just a tournament winner.

“People might think you are silly describing him as a potential, future Major champion. But he could be this good.

“He is going to learn from this. I believe this just a minor hiccup on his ascent to the very top of the game.”