McIlroy’s Masters misery Returns
Rory McIlroy, world number two, was forced to leave the PGA Tour early on a day that saw one of the most prominent players from the LIV Golf series lead the Masters field by three strokes.
McIlroy shot a five-over-par 77 with seven birdies, 17 strokes slower than Brooks Koepka. Now McIlroy faces his second missed Masters cut. It was a season many had hoped that he would win at Augusta and complete his career Grand Slam.
Play was halted due to severe weather just before the second round. At five-over for tournament, in joint 60th position, the Northern Irishman is far from the cut to the low 50 or level projected at two-over.
Although the 33-year old has won four majors, it is now nine year since his last victory in the PGA Championship at Valhalla.
McIlroy is the unofficial player’s spokesman in the PGA Tour’s battle with Saudi-backed LIV. He also played a prominent role at recent meetings that saw changes to the PGA Tour. These included the introduction of ‘enhanced’ events with smaller fields, and higher purses.
McIlroy, who missed the cut at the Players Championship last week, said that his role in rallying the players to the changes, and defending the tour against the emergence LIV, had taken a toll upon his time management before tournaments.
He said that he would love to go back to golfing again, and added that he had “maybe lost a bit of time with some other stuff.”
It is not clear if his willingness to organize meetings or speak on behalf the players was a factor in his poor performance at Augusta. The Northern Irishman fled the grounds during the storm break, and didn’t speak to media.
McIlroy was certainly not doing anything wrong when he practiced his swing on Friday morning. His popularity among Augusta patrons was also evident in his warm reception on his first tee.
But, after a solid start on the opening hole, he walked to the second tee, oddly just as his ex-fiancé, former tennis champion Caroline Wozniacki, passed by, and from there his round fell apart.
McIlroy drove into sand, then shot over the back green as he par-5 second hole. He had already made three more bogeys by the seventh hole.
He was able to find water on the 11th with his approach, which left him looking disillusioned. Even the boost of birdies on 13th and 15th were wiped out by bogeys 16th and 18.
McIlroy, as he showed earlier in the day at the range, has one of best-looking swings in golf and no one has ever doubted his talent or ability to handle difficult courses like Augusta.
– ‘The right space for your head’
After a brilliant final round of 64, he was second, one behind the Masters record. He went into this year’s tournament feeling that he had all the right ingredients for success.
“I feel as relaxed as ever coming in here. My game feels great. McIlroy stated Tuesday that he knows the area as well as anyone.
McIlroy’s collapse at Augusta in 2011 when he was 21 years old, saw him lead by four shots and finish 10 behind, has led to many people questioning his mental ability to handle the mental aspect of golf.
McIlroy is well aware of the importance mind plays in golf. He regularly consults with Bob Rotella, an American sports psychologist.
It was perhaps significant that McIlroy, at the start of the tournament, had spoken out about his Augusta “scar tissue” and the importance mental games.
He said, “I have always felt that I have the physical ability and capability to win this tournament.” “But it’s about being in the right mind space to allow those physical abilities to shine through.”