DUBLIN, Ohio: Rory McIlroy is only 23, but he’s fully aware of the uproar he’s caused — at least in Europe — by missing the cut in his past two events.
The reigning U.S. Open champion from Northern Ireland tried to laugh it off Wednesday during his news conference before today’s start of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
McIlroy said he’d added next week’s event in Memphis to his schedule because “I just feel like I need some rounds. These two-day weeks aren’t really that good for me.”
Asked if that will mean he won’t get to Olympic Club in San Francisco, site of the U.S. Open June 14-17, until tournament week, McIlroy said: “No, I’m planning on playing Memphis and planning on getting there on Sunday night. Do you know what I mean?”
That meant he hoped to be playing all four rounds. That wasn’t the case at the Players Championship and then, after a week off, last week at the European Tour’s signature event at Wentworth, where he came in ranked No. 1 in the world.
“Everyone goes through this, where they just don’t feel that comfortable with their game,” he said. “It’s funny because I felt really good the week at Quail Hollow, got into a playoff there. The Players I felt OK. Everyone knows it’s not one of my favorite venues, but I tried my best, and it just didn’t happen. Then I took the week off and I came back to Wentworth and … once I got into the competitive rounds, I just started to doubt myself a little bit.”
McIlroy said he previously hadn’t missed two consecutive cuts since Houston and the Masters Tournament in 2010. He worked with swing coach Michael Bannon last week and said Bannon came with him to the Memorial.
“We’ve identified a few things in my swing that we just need to look at,” McIlroy said. “I practiced for like six hours yesterday, and I’m going to practice after this. But it’s feeling better day by day. I saw some encouraging signs out there in the pro-am.
“When you’ve went on a run where you’ve hardly finished outside the top five and then all of a sudden two missed cuts, it’s more of a shock than anything else. I just have to knuckle down and figure it out and get back to the way I was at the start of the year.”
Some of the critics at Wentworth suggested that McIroy is spending too much time with his girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. Luke Donald, who regained the world’s No. 1 spot, can relate.
“I remember when I was 23 and had an attractive girlfriend, I would take my eye off the ball sometimes, as well,” Donald said. “You can’t blame the kid. But he’s obviously realized that and it looks like he’s trying to focus on practicing a little bit harder.
“Rory sounds like he’s kind of got to that point where everything has been pretty easy up until this point and he’s come into a bit of a bad run of form. You’ve just got to work through it.”
Tournament host Jack Nicklaus said the clubhouse will be totally renovated after the Memorial. A cart barn and fitness center is already under construction alongside. … Nicklaus said he plans to attend Wimbledon for the second consecutive year. … The field features 20 of the top 30 players in the world and nine past champions. … Four-time Memorial winner Tiger Woods declined to speak to the media after the pro-am, signing a few autographs and striding to the clubhouse with a steely glare.
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