The three-time Major winner grinned as he apologised for turning up empty handed to Stormont Castle in Belfast on the latest leg of his whirlwind victory tour.
The night before the jug took pride of place on the table of an upmarket Belfast nightclub as McIlroy, 25, partied with friends.
But it was nowhere to be seen yesterday as the newly crowned Open winner stopped by for an informal chat with Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
"I am sorry I don't have the claret jug, it's not going everywhere with me," said the golfing superstar.
"It actually needs a bit of a clean after last night.
"It's an amazing trophy and something that I am obviously very proud of…"