Sunday 18 February 2018

Rory McIlroy content to stay 'streaky'

Rory McIlroy in action during yesterday’s pro-am at the Honda Classic. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy in action during yesterday’s pro-am at the Honda Classic. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy is prepared to accept being a streaky putter if he can win five times a year.

Like Honda Classic debutant Shane Lowry, the world No 3 would prefer to miss a rash of cuts and win regularly than plod along racking up top 30 finishes.

As he prepared to chase his first win of the year and avoid disaster at the Bear Trap trio of holes from the 15th to the 17th on the Champion Course, the 26-year-old confessed that he's made peace with the fact that he's not going to putt well, or win, every week

"I've almost accepted the fact that I'm probably going to be a streaky putter, which is fine," said McIlroy, whose record in the Honda Classic is as streaky as his form on the greens.

"It's served me well up until this point; when I'm on, I hole putts and it's good. And when I don't, in the weeks I struggle to hole putts, I still feel like I've got a good chance to win."

Having finished 13th, 40th and 70th before winning the Honda Classic to become world No 1 in 2012, McIlroy walked off the course amid off-course problems (and toothache) the following year, lost in a play-off in 2014 and then missed the cut for the first time last season.

Asked if his record was a reflection of the nature of a wind-blown course that's one of the toughest on tour, he shook his head and joked: "I think it's the nature of me."


While he slipped from contention to tied 20th following a closing 75 in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera last week - forced into more mistakes as he chased birdies - he's not panicking about the Masters, or his putting, just yet.

"I was looking good for most of the week last week and had a bad finish, but I feel like my game's there," he said. "And that's the great thing about golf… there's always next week."

On his putting, he said: "For me, putting, it's a bit of a journey, trying to figure out how I'm thinking and what I'm feeling when I putt well and what I'm maybe feeling and thinking when I don't putt so well.

"I feel like technique-wise, I'm able to start the ball on line. I feel like I can read greens pretty well. So I think it's more of a mental thing."

Prepared to accept that he'll lose more often than he wins, he said: "I feel like the way I play, especially with the aggressiveness of my play, there are going to be times when it won't always work out good for me and I've accepted that.

"Golf for me is all about 22 weeks in a year. If I were to have five wins in that run but then also 10 missed cuts you have to be pretty happy."

Lowry also believes consistency is over-rated and he's looking to continue his good start to the season - and his bid for a Ryder Cup place - with a good performance on a tough track that suits him.

Admitting he'll be "very disappointed" if he fails to make Darren Clarke's Ryder Cup team, Lowry added: "People have expectations and you learn over the years to deal with them.

"Five years ago, if I was in the same position, it would have been different and I would have been more anxious to get off to a good start this year. I would have been doing my schedule around trying to make the team.

"For me, I am just doing my schedule this year by looking at what tournaments I want to play in and where can I do well.

"If I do that and do other things well, like preparing properly and doing things right, I will give myself the best chance to make the team."

McIlroy is scheduled to tee off with defending champion Pádraig Harrington and Open winner Zach Johnson but the Dubliner's preparations were upset by a back problem that forced him to withdraw the Pro-Am on the third hole.

The 44-year old did not want to risk doing himself further damage and while he underwent physiotherapy, he was not considered likely to withdraw from the tournament. Harrington needs a win to qualify for the Masters but world No 73 Graeme McDowell is hoping to clinch his place in the field for the WGC-Cadillac Matchplay in a month's time.

Obliged to make the world's top 64 after next week's WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral, McDowell said: "A good result this week and next week will take care of that.

"And I've had quite a few good finishes here and on a tough course. So I do enjoy it here."

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