Rory McIlroy won the first match of the Sunday singles, 3 and 2 over Xander Schauffele, but with the board bleeding red, the weight of a difficult Ryder Cup showed in a tearful reaction.
After going 0-3 and being benched in the disastrous first four (two-man team) sessions Friday and Saturday, McIlroy never trailed against Schauffele before the emotions hit him all at once Sunday.
“Incredibly proud to be a part of this team,” McIlroy said, his eyes filled with tears, in an interview with NBC’s Jimmy Roberts. “… We’ve had a great time. You know, it looks like it’s not going to pan out the way we want on the golf course.
“I’ve been extremely disappointed that I haven’t contributed for more the team,” he added. “I’m glad I got a point on the board today for them.”
Europe went into the singles session trailing 11-5 and needing a miracle. Although both sides had rallied from 10-6 deficits, no team had ever come all the way back from 11-5.
As it turned out McIlroy and company didn’t even come close.
“It’s been a tough week personally and then obviously for the team as well,” McIlroy said. “We’ve been up against it. The American team have been total class in terms of how they played. You know, they have been dominant. They have been really, really good and we haven’t been able to put up as much of a fight as we want.”
Despite the heavy loss, McIlroy’s heartfelt reaction left no doubts about his feelings for the biennial showdown. He said he was especially sorry not to have gotten the victory for European Captain Padraig Harrington.
“I think I’m emotional, as well, because I wanted to do this for Padraig, too,” he said. “It’s his captaincy, and he’s had a hell of a career, and It would have been an unbelievable thing to cap off with a winning Ryder Cup.
“For me I haven’t been able to contribute as much as I wanted to, but it’s still such a great experience to be part of these Ryder Cup teams and this will just fill the fire even more for us in two years’ time in Rome.”