Friday 23 August 2019

McIlroy dismisses 'mental block' theories following his final-round woe at Masters

Shane Lowry, Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy and Paul McGinley after their challenge match at Adare Manor yesterday. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Shane Lowry, Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy and Paul McGinley after their challenge match at Adare Manor yesterday. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy might be keen to see Adare Manor host the Ryder Cup and even stage an Irish Open over the next few years.

Just don't ask the Co Down man if he thinks his mental game needs an overhaul in the wake of his latest Masters disappointment.

The American mental coach Dr Gio Valiante meted out some tough love to the pride of Holywood after watching him shoot 74 in the final round at Augusta National to finish six strokes behind Patrick Reed.

"That was five hours of choking," Valiante said bluntly, adding the mental block McIlroy admitted to in 2016 was now a block "with a capital B."

"Who?" McIlroy said curtly when asked if he'd absorbed Valiante's, or anyone else's post-Masters analysis. "No, I switched my cell phone off for about five days and didn't look at anything, for obvious reasons. I don't know who Gio Valiante is."

Was it his mental game?

"No. Not necessarily. I just didn't hit the right shots at the right time. It's as simple as that."

McIlroy was in Adare to talk about the 2020 JP McManus Pro-Am but the new Adare's uncanny similarities to Augusta National appeared to fuel the flow of Masters questions

"I view Augusta as a very positive week," he said when asked if he was "over" the Masters. "I put myself in a position to win another Major. It didn't quite happen for me. But the long list of positives far outweighs the negatives. I wish I had put a bit more pressure on Patrick Reed early in the fourth round but I wasn't quite able to do it."

Set to play six events in the next seven weeks, he was considerably more chirpy about he JP McManus Pro-Am and the incredible quality of the new, Tom Fazio version of Adare Manor, which is clearly more than capable of hosting a Ryder Cup.

It will get its first major outing from July 6-7, 2020, when McManus stages his traditional charity Pro-Am for the first time since 2010 with tickets (flat caps this time) already on sale.

It's an event that has raised €140m for charities in the mid-west since 1990 and a testament to the charisma and persuasive powers of the Limerick billionaire that Tiger Woods and a long line of A-list celebrities fall over themselves to attend.


European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley marvelled at McManus' ability to persuade four of tour's biggest stars to turn up and play for free at yesterday's official opening when he had to invent the Rolex Series to get them to come home.

But even the man who makes Tiger say "Yes" will have to wait until after this year's Ryder Cup in Paris before Pelley considers awarding Adare Manor the Ryder Cup in 2026 or 2030. "It is nothing short of spectacular," Pelley said. "As the players said last night, the golf course is a masterpiece."

Team McIlroy/McGinley and Team Harrington/Lowry shot 68 apiece to tie in a friendly fourball better-ball exhibition that split €500,000 between their nominated charities. But all four declared the venue the winner.

"What you have here is parkland perfection," said Harrington who advised Fazio during the redesign. "You couldn't ask for a better golf course."

McManus made no secret of his ambitions to host to Ryder Cup, reiterating that desire yesterday.

"It is every golf course owner's hope to get the Ryder Cup," he said. "I am sure it will cost plenty. But I would like to bring it to Ireland, to Limerick and to Adare and give the whole south-west a boost. It would be great for Limerick and it would be great for Ireland."

McGinley echoed those sentiments but he was quick to point out that it is not all down to McManus but to the Irish government too. "First, and most important, it is an Irish bid," he said. "It is not a JP McManus bid. It is a bid where we need to get the government on side. I think we are on the right track and fingers crossed it would be a great venue showcasing Ireland. (But) there is huge competition out there."

Most Ryder Cup venues serve as European Tour venues in the run to a Ryder Cup and McIlroy did not rule out Adare hosting the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

"I have been a big advocate for the Irish Open to be staged on a links golf course, and I feel that is very important at that time of the year, but if I were to make an exception to that rule this would be the place where it would go," said McIlroy, who has fond memories of attending the 2006 Ryder Cup at The K Club.

"It just made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up on end," McIlroy said. "So, to play a Ryder Cup in front of your home fans would be a dream come true and hopefully one day it will happen."

Irish Independent

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