• What They Said

What They Said

ESPN staff
June 19, 2011
Rory McIlroy's victory looked straightforward © Getty Images

Champion Rory McIlroy believed his meltdown at The Masters two months ago was instrumental in his victory at Congressional. He said: "I couldn't be happier. I know how good Tiger was in 2000 to win by 15 at Pebble, and I was trying to go out there today and emulate him in some way. I played great for four days and I couldn't be happier.

"Augusta was a very valuable experience for me. I knew what I needed to do today to win and Augusta I learned a few things about myself and my game, and I put a few different things into practice and it paid off."

Charl Schwartzel, who profitted from McIlroy's troubles at Augusta, praised the 22-year-old's ability to bounce back: "You know, the way he reacted, the way he handled it afterwards, it looked like it was going to be around the corner. He put it behind him very quickly. I think you guys sort of took it a bit further and tried to see why, and he just said, well, it happened, and he sort of got on with it a lot quicker, which for him was very good, and the results are showing."

Martin Kaymer had high praise for McIlroy. He said: "The way he plays golf, it's a different golf. It's close to perfect. It is great for him to win the event early in his career. He's only 22 years old and especially after what happened at the Masters, you know, all the eyes on him. And to finally to bring it home and to win not only, I would say, the biggest over there, anyway, besides the Masters, but it's the U.S. Open, if you are the champion of the United States, it's quite impressive."

Defending champion Graeme McDowell joined the chorus of praise for his compatriot: "It's been a great twelve months. Being the US Open champion, being announced as such all over the world. It's been great. Generally being level par has a chance of winning this tournament, but not this week - because there is a young curly-haired kid out there tearing it up."

Luke Donald finished well with a 69, but nevertheless saw his streak of top ten finishes come to an end. He said: "I think the last six or seven weeks has taken a lot out of me. I've certainly been in contention a lot, played a lot of golf in different countries, different time zones, and I probably haven't got my energy levels quite back up to where I would have liked them to be at the beginning of this week. But no excuses, I just didn't play well enough."

Phil Mickelson started and finished an underwhelming campaign with water-aided double bogeys. He said: "That stuff happens. I thought the course was set up great. I thought that the soft conditions obviously made it a little bit easier than everybody had hoped. But the setup was wonderful. I thought it was a well-run event. The people came out and really supported the tournament, and I just didn't play how I had hoped."

Tennis star Rafael Nadal has not been in action this week at Congressional, but he was nonetheless in awe of McIlroy. He said: "I love golf. I follow almost every week. Seriously, I love watching Rory. He has probably one of the nicest swings in the world, if not the nicest. He deserves to win a major because, in my opinion, right now he's playing at a different level than the rest."

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