Rory McIlroy’s body language told his story.
The bounce in his walk, as much a part of McIlroy as his Irish brogue, was flat. He had spent Sunday chasing a championship he couldn’t quite catch, undone by a few loose shots that kept him from becoming the first two-time winner of the Wells Fargo Championship.
Brilliant on Sunday two years ago at Quail Hollow Club when he shot a 62, McIlroy was more borderline this time, scarring his scorecard with back-nine bogeys at Nos. 11 and 17, mistakes that left him in a playoff he didn’t win against champion Rickie Fowler and D.A. Points.
He regained the world No. 1 ranking, but McIlroy was chasing more.
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“Its a little consolation,” McIlroy said of being No. 1 again. “I would rather win the tournament.”
That’s what athletes say when they lose, but with McIlroy, it sounds sincere. He plays for trophies, not world-ranking points.
As good and as famous as he is, McIlroy still hasn’t made a routine of winning. A victory Sunday would have been only his third on the PGA Tour, and he nibbled around the edges through the weekend but never could take hold of the championship. He got a share of the lead and a spot in the playoff, but there were too many loose threads over four days for him to win.
“A decent week,” McIlroy said. “I gave myself a chance to win, (which) was nice.”
Then there was Points, a 35-year-old who has made a nice living playing professional golf but never made himself famous.
He was the third wheel Sunday, the extra guy in a tournament that seemed intent on boiling itself down to a Rickie-Rory duel. But Points, proving golfers can engage the crowd and spread their own joy when the heat is on, refused to go away. He kept making pars, made a late birdie and spoiled it with a bogey on the 72nd hole when a par would have earned him the trophy Fowler took home.
Perhaps Sunday night Points dwelled on the opportunity he lost, but he sounded like a man thrilled to have been where he was – even if the story ended awkwardly for him.
“I was never like, ‘woo-hoo, this is so easy and this is super comfortable,’ ” Points said. “I’ve won out here once and my other best finish has been a third.
“This probably isn’t that big a deal for (McIlroy) because he’s been there enough. For Rickie and I, I think we were both a little nervous the whole time. It just gives me a little more comfort, so maybe the next (time) when I’m in the same situation I’ll handle it a little better.”