April 11, 2011
One day after Rory McIlroy's apocalyptic meltdown at the start of the back nine at Augusta, a span of three holes in which he surrendered six strokes and the lead he'd held since Thursday, McIlroy found himself in the presence of the green jacket after all, albeit on the shoulders of champion Charl Schwartzel. Both Schwartzel and McIlroy were headed to Malaysia to compete in the Malaysian Open. And, as you can see, McIlroy isn't too broken up to manage a smile.
"Flying to Malaysia with Charl!" McIlroy said on Twitter. "Glad one of us has a green jacket on!!!" McIlroy also re-tweeted messages from fans who joked that they didn't know there were houses at Augusta until McIlroy hit his tee shot on 10 up among them.
It's entirely possible that McIlroy may gain almost as many fans with the graceful way he handled defeat, answering direct questions with a wry smile, as he would have with victory. We can't all know what it's like to win a green jacket, but we all know what it's like to fall short.
"Well, that wasn't the plan!" McIlroy tweeted shortly after the end of the round. "Found it tough going today, but you have to lose before you can win. This day will make me stronger in the end."