Destructive putting a headache for Mcllroy
PLENTY might have tried, but Rory McIlroy can hardly be blamed for attempting something new and playing solely in America in the build-up to his next tilt at a career Grand Slam at the Masters in April.
What is more concerning is the fact that the start of his new adventure in Hawaii on Sunday was marked by the resurfacing of some familiar failings that leave him with no chance of attaining his goal unless they are eradicated.
Peerless off the tee, and perfectly placed in the final group after three rounds, McIlroy could not buy a putt this past Sunday, to fall to joint fourth behind American Xander Schauffele. Now, where have we heard that before?
A new destination for the Northern Irishman it may have been, but it is a destructive pattern we saw in plenty of other places last year.
Given how good he used to be in that position, it is scarcely believable the 29-year-old has now not won any of the last seven tournaments in which he has been in the final group.
With a conversion rate like that, no wonder he has won only once in two years.
McIlroy has drawn plenty of heat for opting to give the Middle East a miss this month and stay in America until the three US majors are done in June, but it makes perfect sense. He might have a great record in the events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but he has often played poorly when he has returned to the US thereafter, so why venture back and forth when all the focus is on being ready for Georgia in the spring?
Sure, he could have used more temperate language last week than describing the European Tour as a “stepping stone”, but the day we start expecting our leading players to place loyalty over ambition is when they stop winning majors and Ryder Cups.
If Rory wins the Masters, you can guarantee he will play plenty in Europe from July onwards. Do not criticise him, because he has got his priorities the right way around. Right now, all his energies are correctly channelled on unlocking that elusive 2%or 3% of improvement that will turn him into a winner again.
We can see already that so much is right about his game that he will be a contender, as usual, at Augusta – but can he find the missing piece? America, for sure, is the place to be looking
Ignore the fact his wrist was in a splint when Padraig Harrington was announced Europe’s Ryder Cup captain at Wentworth. The coveted post is in safe hands.
The 47-year-old slipped on the stairs during the Christmas break and will not be playing again until February, but you can be sure there will be no mishaps when it comes to preparing his Europe team for the task of winning at Whistling Straits next year.