Rory: Celebrations cost me against Reed
Rory McIlroy appears to carry a sense of regret regarding the exuberant celebrations in his box-office Ryder Cup singles match with Patrick Reed, even though he remembers the contest as "an incredible experience".
McIlroy and Reed's battle provided one of the highlights of last year's clash between Europe and the United States at Hazeltine, as the hosts reclaimed the trophy with an emphatic 17-11 triumph.
After Reed had eagled the fifth in Sunday's opening head-to-head duel, the duo each birdied the next three holes, exchanging increasingly animated celebrations that culminated in McIlroy wildly gesturing to the crowd after a 60-foot putt on the eighth, only for his opponent to follow him in.
In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Independent, McIlroy was asked if the singles clash, which Reed ultimately won on the 18th following a notable dip in quality over the back nine, felt like two boxers going toe-to-toe.
"It did feel like that," replied the Northern Irishman. "It was a bit of a blood-fest. I'd hit him with a punch and he'd hit me back and it was very much that way, a ding-dong battle. And that obviously culminated with what happened on the eighth.
"That's what people will remember it for. They're not going to remember the whole match because the rest of it wasn't that good, and if you're a pure golf fan you'd much rather have watched Phil [Mickelson] and Sergio [Garcia, who halved a high-quality contest]. They'll remember that stretch of holes when we were five under through eight and all-square, but it didn't get much better after that.
"Obviously we were both amped up, but I never thought I'd see something like that of myself on the golf course. Something just came over me and I went absolutely nuts. I look at the video of it and chuckle, 'Is that really me?'
"I guess the lesson is that those exuberant celebrations - not just on the final day but the rest of the week as well - probably cost me a record I wanted to keep: I had never been beaten in a Ryder Cup singles.
"So personally that was the most disappointing thing. It was disappointing that we lost as a team but I definitely felt what I did on the front nine that day cost me that match. I got a little tired, a little mentally fatigued."
Despite feeling he could have kept a lid on his emotions more effectively, McIlroy added: "It was scrappy on the way in. But it was an incredible experience. And it was great to be a part of a match that will probably go down in history - some of it for the right reasons, and some of it for, well, not the wrong reasons, but different reasons.
"As I've said, if you're a pure golfing fan, the match with Phil and Sergio was probably the match of that Ryder Cup singles day. We sort of overshadowed it by jumping about and making fools of ourselves."