Friday 19 January 2018


1 Find himself! Having complained of feeling "a little lost" as he missed the cut at the Irish Open and of being "brain dead" at Muirfield, where he failed to go beyond 36 holes at the British Open, it was a good move by Rory McIlroy to go home to Northern Ireland last weekend for "some golf with my buddies. I just had a good time for three days, sort of got back to playing golf and enjoying it."

Hopefully, he got back in touch with the exuberant youngster who used get such a kick out of the game.

2 Smile! Former US Ryder Cup captain and two-time PGA champ Dave Stockton (71) helped revitalise McIlroy at precisely the same point last year.

The short game guru this week suggested a tweak or two in the 24-year-old's putting stroke, but once again urged him to count his blessings and keep his emotions under wraps on the course.

McIlroy heeded this avuncular advice last season, finishing fifth at Firestone before romping to a record-breaking victory in the US PGA in Kiawah. Significantly, he appears determined once again to adjust his attitude.

3 Play More! McIlroy's problems rest between the ears and not in his game or the golf bag. After just four rounds of (poor) tournament play in seven weeks since the US Open, he inevitably has zero momentum and little confidence.

Though guaranteed 72 holes at Firestone, McIlroy appears unlikely to hang onto his PGA crown at Oak Hill next week. Yet with four FedEx Cup play-offs following in quick succession, he should be back at his pomp within a month.

4 Get a driver that works! The greatest weapon in McIlroy's arsenal used be his Titleist driver and, in its absence, he hasn't played with the same authority or assurance.

There were promising noises about the new Nike Covert prototype he gave a good airing to on Friday at Muirfield.

Yet with good driving essential at Firestone and Oak Hill, the next 11 days will reveal if this key problem has been resolved.

5 Hear no evil, see no evil, read no evil! It's staggering how many multiple Major-winners recently have thrown-in their tuppence-worth.

Jack Nicklaus implied McIlroy had lost his hunger; Nick Faldo suggested he needed to 'concentrate 100pc' on golf and Gary Player urged him to "find a good wife."

Unfortunately, even well-meaning messages get mangled in transmission. Blinkers and ear plugs are a must.

karl macginty

Irish Independent

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