Rory McIlroy revealed the depth of his Masters frustration ahead of his first start since failing to contend when in a strong final round position at Augusta National.
The Northern Irishman played in the final pair at the Masters and got to within two shots of the lead on the second green, but thereafter faded with a 74 to finish a disappointing tied fifth.
Ahead of the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club, the 28-year-old was in a mood of unsparing honesty.
"The Masters has become the biggest golf tournament in the world and I'm comfortable saying that," said McIlroy, who needs a green jacket to complete the career grand slam.
"I don't care about the U.S. Open or the Open, it is the biggest golf tournament in the world, the most amount of eyeballs, the most amount of hype, everything is at Augusta.
"For me it's the most special tournament we play and it's the one everyone desperately wants to win, but even if I was going for my first major, it's still tough to win."
His inability to put pressure on the eventual winner Patrick Reed led to a period of introspection and he eventually had to be driven out of the house by his wife Erica.
"It was just the quiet moments when you're staring off into the distance and thinking about a certain shot or a certain putt," McIlroy explained. "It got to the point where I needed to see a bit of daylight and start to do my normal things.
"Once I got back into my routine I was fine. I was disappointed because I just didn't give a good account of myself on that final day. I got lucky on that Saturday, that 65 was as good as I could have scored. I chipped in, there were a couple of balls that hit trees and came back into the fairway, hit it up into the azaleas and got away with it.
"I was sort of holding my game together and on Sunday it never clicked for me."
As a comeback venue Quail Hollow could hardly be better. McIlroy has played there seven times, winning twice and losing a play-off to Rickie Fowler on a third occasion.
McIlroy is 15/2 to win the tournament outright, 16/1 to claim the first round lead and 10/11 to win his first round three-ball against Paul Casey and James Hahn.
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