McIlroy retreats after Muirfield mauling

Rory McIlroy  AFP PHOTO

Rory McIlroy AFP PHOTO

GULLANE, United Kingdom: Rory McIlroy was put out of his Muirfield misery on Friday with the struggling Northern Irishman saying he would play as much as he can over the next few weeks to try and turn around his abysmal season.

The former world No.1 carded a second round of 75 in the British Open—four strokes better than his opening effort of 79—but nowhere near enough to punch his ticket for the weekend in the year’s third major.

It is the first time that he has missed the cut in The Open in six attempts, although he has only finished in the top 20 once—at St Andrews in 2010 when he tied for third behind Louis Oosthuizen.

Still, McIlroy sounded more upbeat than he was on Thursday when he described his state of mind out on the course as if he was “unconscious” or “brain-dead”.

This time, he took some comfort from the fact that he stayed on par playing down Muirfield’s testing last nine holes at a time when others on Friday evening were shedding strokes.

“Disappointed, but I guess I have a clearer picture of what I need to work on and what I need to do to put things right,” he said.

“Sometimes this game can feel further away than it actually is. And obviously at the end of yesterday it couldn’t have felt much further away.

“And today you played the last 11 holes like that, you see some positive signs. And you try and sort of take anything you can from that.”

Much has been made of McIlroy’s change of golfing equipment providers at the start of the year, saying that was responsible for his loss of form after a great finish to 2012 which saw him win his second major at the PGA Championship and take the world number one spot.

Others have pointed to his 24-year-old mind not being fully focused on his golfing career, with his high profile romance with Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki coming under increasing scrutiny.

But McIlory insists that the real reason for his struggles is more complex than that.

“I don’t know if I can single out one thing. I think it’s been a combination of things, to be honest,” he said.

“I think the schedule hasn’t been quite right. Swing hasn’t been quite right. And a combination of those has led to, I guess, sloppy play, just because of not being sharp enough.

“Because whenever you’re swinging it well and you’re confident, you can take a couple of weeks off, go to the next event and play and you’re okay.

“But I think when I am struggling with my game, I think it’s better to play my way out of it, and that’s something I haven’t really done this year.”

That is exactly what he intends to do now as he switches back to the US tour to begin the buildup to the defence of his PGA title at Oak Hill Country Club, Rochester.

That will start at the Bridgestone Invitational at Akron, Ohio, a course that McIlroy enjoys playing.

“I’m going to look forward to it, four really good competitive rounds there. It’s a great prep for the PGA. I’m really looking forward to Akron. It’s a place I’ve done well before. It’s a place I feel I can win.”


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