Friday 22 September 2017

McIlroy hoping to bounce back

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

In 15 years as a professional Tiger Woods has never missed back-to-back cuts. Rory McIlroy has now missed three in a row.

And if three becomes four next week then the 23-year-old really does have a problem.

After crashing out of the Memorial Tournament following a second-round 79, world number two McIlroy has one more chance to build some confidence heading into his defence of the US Open title.

He is the only player in the world's top 16 entered for the St Jude Classic in Memphis, an event he decided to play in only after his early exit from the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Nobody was that shocked when the run started with scores of 72 and 76 in the Players Championship at Sawgrass. McIlroy has yet to make a cut there, he has no great liking for the course and he was coming off a play-off at Quail Hollow.

But when he had rounds of 74 and 79 in the European Tour's flagship tournament to crash out by eight shots, eyebrows were raised - even more so afterwards when he admitted: "I might have taken eye off the ball a little bit."

A trip the following day to see girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki in Paris before she began the French Open came only after he had put in some hard work in the gym and on the range. That hard work has continued, but it is not bearing fruit yet.

"I don't feel like the scores are actually reflecting how I'm hitting the ball," he said at Muirfield Village. "I hit some good shots. It just seems like every time I go out there I make one or two big numbers, and that sort of throws me."

It is generally agreed that a US Open is not the place to try to find your game, so Memphis takes on crucial importance. From there it will be straight onto the demanding Olympic Club in San Francisco.

World number one Luke Donald, who played the opening two rounds with McIlroy in Ohio, said: "He's obviously frustrated - this game does that to you. He's not far away. He made a couple of careless errors, but I'm sure once he posts one solid run of maybe a couple of rounds or a tournament this will be a blur and he'll forget about it quickly."

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