McIlroy Returns To Swiss Alps Seeking One That Got Away

Eleven years on and Rory McIlroy has returned to the Omega European Masters high in the Swiss Alps looking for the one that got away.

It was 2008 and McIlroy was competing on the Crans-sur-Sierre course for a first occasion, and the memories that week of lettting slip a first pro victory remain as fresh at the Alpine air.

Bernie was present that day when the then World No. 172nd ranked Northern Irishman, and that’s 170 places lowly than his current ranking having moved up a place from No. 3 in brilliantly capturing last week’s PGA Tour season-ending Tour Championship, looked all set for a first European Tour win.

Back in 2008 the then curly-haired McIlroy was leading by a shot heading up the 72nd hole but missed a five-foot putt for par to send the event into a play-off with Frenchman Jean Francois Lucquin.

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Then at the first extra play-off hole McIlroy had just a wedge into the green but a clearly pumped-up Ulsterman horribly ‘over- cooked’ his approach shot sending itway past the flag and through to the back of the green and handing Lucquin his only Tour win.

There’s a lasting memory of McIlroy turning to then caddy, J P Fitzgerald with his mouth open in total disbelief knowing his second shot was long and staring at ‘JP’ as though ‘why did I play this club?’

“Looking back, I had a wonderful opportunity to win my first event on Tour here,” said McIlroy.

“I was leading going into the last day, had a one-shot lead playing the last and wasn’t able to make par from there.

“I hit a sand-wedge over the back of the green and lost in the play-off.  There has been tournaments that I have lost in my career and it’s been my fault but I find myself in the shower thinking back to that day

“It’s still to this day the one event that I think of that I would like to re-do – get a mulligan.”

McIlroy returned a year later to finish seventh while he was third in both 2011 and 2012 and now is clearly feeling as though he’s owed a Swiss Masters title.

“It would have been nice to go home with the trophy but I have plenty more tournaments even this year,” said McIlroy.

“It would be great to get a win this year but if not I have the rest of my career. C’est la vie.

The now 30-year old McIlroy has been coerced back to the Swiss Alps on a deal with Omega after missing this year’s similar-sponsored Dubai Desert Classic.

And instead of EasyJet to Geneva as was the scenario in 2008, he arrived earlier this week via private jet from Atlanta accompanied by his wife and her parents.

“The first time I was here I fell in love with the place, the people, the atmosphere,” he said. “I’m glad that it worked out this year that I could be here. I would like to give myself another chance at least.

“My wife and her parents are here this week so it’s nice to show them around. They had never been here before. They went to Zermatt today, went up to the glacier yesterday.

“I still have a golf tournament to play so I can’t do it all with them but it’s been fun. Being able to walk from the hotel to the first tee is nice. Just the atmosphere of the village is nice.”

Joining McIlroy this week is fellow Irish Padraig Harrington, Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan



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