Sunday 21 July 2019

McIlroy: I know my game is good enough to win if I just stay patient

 

Dustin Johnson poses with his Mexico Championship trophy. Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images
Dustin Johnson poses with his Mexico Championship trophy. Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy insists that he's not frustrated with his eighth successive final-group disappointment in the space of 13 months and believes his patience will pay off soon.

The Co Down man failed to come from four behind Dustin Johnson in Sunday's showdown for the WGC Mexico Championship at Chapultepec GC and finished up five behind the man who will return to world number one next week.

But while the pessimists will say that McIlroy has lost that ability to impose himself on the opposition, few would swap places with the pride of Holywood with just six weeks to go to the Masters.

While he's skipping this week's Honda Classic where European Ryder Cup captain Pádraig Harrington returns to action for the first time this year after a wrist injury, McIlroy can look back on his most impressive start to any season since 2012 with justified optimism.

He's had four successive top-five finishes compared to three top-threes and a win in the Honda Classic seven years ago - a victory that propelled him to world No 1 for the first time.

Frustrated

"No, I'm not frustrated," McIlroy said after adding Sunday's final-group disappointment to six similar episodes last season and this year's season-opening Sentry Tournament of Champions, where Xander Schauffele shot 61 to snatch victory.

"I've played well. I've done what I've wanted to do and needed to do. I think I'm 56-under par for my first four events of the year (stroke average 68.25). So the game's good. It's just about staying patient and hopefully one of these weeks it will fall my way."

Statistically at least, the Holywood star's numbers are as good as they have ever been - especially with the putter.

And long-time McIlroy observer Paul McGinley is convinced that if his fans are patient, it's only a matter of time before he starts winning big again.

"It's been a long time since you've seen him trending as good as this in the game of golf," McGinley said in Mexico City on Sunday after watching Johnson dodge some early McIlroy punches to stroll to his 20th PGA Tour victory.

"Look at the stats, his driving ability, how straight he's hitting it, how well he's swinging the club, how good his chipping is, how good his bunker play is, how good his attitude is at the moment.

"Three top-fives and a second place in his first four events of the year. That's pretty formidable. It's been a while since we've seen this kind of form.

"He's just got to remain patient. If he keeps playing like he's been playing and putting like he putted this week, there is no doubt there are a lot of big tournaments to come for him, and he can add to his Major tally for sure.

"If you are a McIlroy fan, you look at that and say, 'wow, he's back on the horse again'."

Finishing first past the post is his next task and a return next week to Bay Hill to defend the Arnold Palmer Invitational title he won with that majestic closing 64 last year may be just the place to re-enter to the winner's enclosure.

Irish Independent

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