World golf rallied around Rory McIlroy after his Masters meltdown. But major-less Colin Montgomerie reckons the youngster will need massive support from his family, his friends and his backroom team if he is not to be scarred by his Augusta agony for months to come.
The Scot never won a major, finishing second five times with his most famous blowout coming in 2006 when he double bogeyed the last to throw away the US Open at Winged Foot.
Fearing that McIlroy’s final round 80 might leave him deep scars, Monty said: “I just hope that he has as many sympathetic voices in his ear as possible over the next few months.
“It’s going to be a very difficult few months for him and I hope that he gets the support he requires for his career to move forward from this. This is a huge learning curve for Rory McIlroy.
“I was so delighted for him to be four ahead. Yes it’s an error, but it’s only a mistake if he doesn’t learn from it. And he will learn from this and next time when he is in this position he will pull through.”
Recalling his Winged Foot “disaster” at the age of 43, Montgomerie knows that McIlroy will be hurting deep down inside.
But reckons the 21-year old Irish star has time on his side and should take the positives from his reverse.
He said: “It took me a few months to get over it to be honest. The other four or five majors I was runner-up in it was the other people doing well.
“But that was my fault and Rory must feel the same. But he has to take the positives out of it, he was leading the Masters standing on the 10th tee, the 63rd hole. He only lost the lead with eight holes to go. That has to be a positive at 21 years old.”
Tiger Woods’ former coach Butch Harmon said before the week started that McIlroy’s short game wasn’t good enough to win the Masters.
But while he was proved right, he didn’t gloat.
Predicting better days ahead, Harmon said: “I think there will be many opportunities for him. It’s very tough to take the lead into the final day when you’ve never been there in a Major championship.
“A lot of people have struggled with it. He was shaky on the front nine and it started at the 10th hole and just got worse.
“The young man will be back, we will see him again at Augusta in this position and next time he’ll be able to handle it a little bit better.”
McIlroy’s final round collapse was the biggest at Augusta since Greg Norman blew a six-shot lead and finished five behind Nick Faldo in 1996.
The Great White Shark never won a green jacket and was cruelly dubbed the Great White Fish Finger by the Aussie press.
But he confessed that he felt for McIlroy, explaining: “I know exactly how he felt - I’ve experienced it. What is it with golf destiny? Isn’t it strange?
“It taps you on the back of your head and it either pushes you ahead or pushes you back. Who determines that? It’s crazy.”
Norman was denied by a brilliant Nick Faldo, who reckons that McIlroy has time on his side.
The English legend, who didn’t win his first major until the day after his 30th birthday, said: “He’s young and I am sure he will regroup and come back stronger.
“He was thrown in at the deep end and this is a serious deep end. You are there on your own, things get out of sync and you lose your tempo.”
Pal Graeme McDowell and Ryder Cup team mates Luke Donald and Ian Poulter all believe that McIlroy will come back a stronger player.
McDowell followed his friend for nine holes during the third round but told his Twitter followers that he almost turned off the TV with five holes of the final round to go.
McDowell wrote: “Thinking about switching my TV off. This just got ugly.”
Later he added: “Gutted for Rory today. It’s gonna feel like the end of the world a little right now but this will be a huge learning experience.
“You can’t believe how good a player he is and he will win multiple majors. This is simply a blip on the radar.”
Luke Donald, who finished four behind Charl Schwartzel in tied fourth, tweeted: “My heart goes out to Rory, the best talent in golf in my opinion. I’m sure his closet will be stuffed with green jackets by the time he is done with the game.”
He added: “He’s a young player. He’ll bounce back, I’m sure. He’s great and has got a great future ahead of him, but he’s just got to take the learning experience from this and try to get better.
“It’s never easy to lead from the front and when I saw he made triple on 10 and backed it up with a couple more tough holes (bogey on 11, double bogey on 12 after four-putting) my heart went out to him.”
Poulter added: “Rory will be back in full force quicker than ever. It will be hard to take but it will make him stronger.”