PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Rory McIlroy showed up to Augusta, Ga., last month trying to land the final piece in his historic quest to land a career Grand Slam. The Masters is the only championship he is missing, and he tied for seventh. Will McIlroy cry on that day in the future that he finally is fitted for a green jacket? Debatable. But this year’s finish did reduce him to tears, as watching old pal Sergio Garcia finally win his first major really moved him emotionally.
“I cried. I cried. It was unbelievable,” said McIlroy, who sped down Washington Road after his final round was done on Sunday to get to his rental house to watch the finish. Once there, he was screaming at his television as he watched two good friends – Garcia and Justin Rose – battle for the title. When Garcia missed a putt to win on the 72nd hole, McIlroy was cursing at the TV.
Garcia eventually prevailed in a playoff, and McIlroy was not able to congratulate him in person until Garcia arrived at Ashford Castle in Ireland for McIlroy’s wedding a few weeks ago.
“I mean, Justin is a great friend of mine, but I hadn’t seen Sergio since … the first time I saw him was when he got into our wedding on Friday night, I gave him the biggest bear hug, (and said), ‘This is unbelievable.’
“Just to see what he’s been through, and his struggles, and for it to be there (at Augusta) … I mean, I’m getting goosebumps even talking about it. Sergio is a good friend of mine, he means a lot to me. It was a great story. I don’t think it could have really went any better than it did.”
How close are the two? Well, McIlroy said Tuesday at The Players that he will serve as a groomsman when Garcia weds former Golf Channel broadcaster Angela Akins in Texas.
“It’s going to be really hot in Austin that time of year, but should be nice,” McIlroy said.
One other nice byproduct of McIlroy’s wedding to American Erica Stoll? It helped to patch up some simmering animosity between former Ryder Cup teammates Garcia and Padraig Harrington, two of the wedding attendees. McIlroy even scrolled through his phone just to show a photo of the two huddled next to one another, Garcia seemingly ready to plant a kiss on the Dubliner’s cheek.
“I said, ‘Can I tweet that?’ McIlroy said, smiling. “They said, well, maybe not. But that’s as close as they got.
“It was great. I saw them chatting, and I said to Padraig (jokingly), he’s a really sore loser. We all started to laugh. And it was all good. It’s fine. Look, things get blown up in the media sometimes. They’ve played in Ryder Cups together and stuff, and obviously they’ve had their battles. But they’re great. They seemed to get on well that weekend.”
And last but not least, Rors, what was the deal with Stevie Wonder performing at the wedding?
“Well, we thought, we have people at the wedding who are 80 and people who are 20,” he said. “So we wanted something that everyone knew.
“We were like, ‘Stevie Wonder? Perfect.’ That was cool. Really cool.”