Sport Golf

Friday 20 July 2018

McIlroy unfazed as putter woes continue

Rory McIlroy tests the flexibility of his club. Photo: AP
Rory McIlroy tests the flexibility of his club. Photo: AP

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy believes he's close to his best again despite a Jekyll and Hyde performance in the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

The Holywood star (29) topped the charts for strokes gained from tee to green, but despite finishing dead last for putting, he insisted he wouldn't have it the other way around.

"I played well on Thursday, but then I sort of just reverted back to a couple of bad habits that I've been in and struggled the last three days," said McIlroy, who closed with a 67 to finish 12th on 11-under par, six shots behind winner Bubba Watson

Despite missing a career-high 17 putts inside 10 feet, he's not panicking over his putting and when asked if he'd rather be swinging well and struggling with the putter or vice-versa, he had no doubts

"Swinging it really well and struggling with the putter," he said, pointing to players such as Angel Cabrera or Vijay Singh.

"I think if you look back all through history and the guys that have done really well and been consistent throughout their careers, they've always been superior ball strikers

"Then they'll have their weeks on the green which are good and some weeks that aren't."

As for the state of his long game as the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and The Open approach, he knows he's got work to do.

Confidence

"Look, it's never that far away," he said, admitting he needs a break after six events in eight weeks. "I can hold it together and play okay, but just need to do a little bit of work and get my confidence up if anything.

"Hopefully just some more practice and a few more reps and seeing some better shots on the course and I'll be a little more comfortable going into the third major there."

Watson claimed the title for the third time in since 2010 when he roared home in 30, carding a seven-under 63 and win by three shots from Stewart Cink (62), Beau Hossler (66), JB Holmes (67) and England's Paul Casey, who led by four shots after a third round 62 but could only manage a closing 72 at TPC River Highlands.

West Waterford's Seamus Power moved up one spot to 119th in the FedEx Cup standings after he closed with a three-under 67 to finish tied 36th on six-under as Pádraig Harrington ended up propping up the field on four-over after weekend rounds of 75 and 74.

On the European Tour, England's Matt Wallace had Harrington's former caddie David McNeilly to thank for steering him to his third win in 13 months in the BMW International Open in Munich.

The Englishman (28) started the day just two shots off the lead but quickly found himself six adrift when Dane Thorbjorn Olesen fired an 11-under par course record 61 to set the target at nine-under par.

Wallace made just two birdies on the front nine but after calling in Carrickfergus-born McNeilly to line up his putts, he rattled in long range birdie putts at the 10th and 11th, racing home in 31 for a 65 to win by a shot from Olesen (61), Finn Mikko Korhonen (67) and Martin Kaymer (68) 10-under par.

"On 10 and 11, I said to him (McNeilly), listen, I need something, some more confidence, somewhere, so do you mind lining me up," explained Wallace, who is now 12th in the European Ryder Cup Points List.

"I played the front nine really nice but missed loads of putts. After those two, I thought, okay, this is on."

Meanwhile, Mount Juliet's touring professional Gavin Moynihan was breathing a sigh of relief after he finished tied sixth in the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge. The Dubliner (23) had not made a cut for eight months, but he was thrilled to put a nightmare run behind him, closing with a four-under 67 to finish six shots behind winner David Law on five-under par.

"Been a long time coming," tweeted Moynihan, who picked up €7,300. "Very happy to finish T6 this week in Scotland on @ChallengeTour. Been a rough run since Xmas so very happy with the week. Nice to sign off with a 67 too."

Law closed with a four under par 67 to claim his maiden Challenge Tour title by two strokes from Denmark's Joachim B Hansen on 11-under par as Michael Hoey (73) and Ruaidhri McGee (72) tied for 36th on one-over.

On the Symetra Tour, Jordanstown's Stephanie Meadow shot 74 to finish tied 41st on one-under par in the Island Resort Championship in Michigan, eight shots behind China's Ruixin Liu

Co Cavan's Leona Maguire shot rounds of 76 and 72 to miss her first cut as a professional by five strokes.

Irish Independent

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