Friday 24 November 2017

Rory McIlroy: Mental approach key to sorting out flaws in game

Rory McIlroy notched up six bogeys this week Photo: AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
Rory McIlroy notched up six bogeys this week Photo: AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

William S Callahan

Rory McIlroy admitted he has to improve his mental approach after claiming an unwanted record despite finishing a frustrating week in style in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

McIlroy carded two eagles and five birdies in a closing 65 - the joint lowest round of the day - to finish six-under par at Bay Hill.

However, he finished 11 shots behind Australia's Jason Day in joint 27th place and carded another double bogey - on the 14th - to make it six for the week, the most ever recorded in a PGA Tour event.

The four-time Major winner was never in contention for a first win of the season after shooting 75 on the first day and again in the third round, but could take the positives from a 67 on Friday and yesterday's score, which he completed by holing from 60 feet for birdie on the 18th.

"Bryson (DeChambeau) and myself both got off to a great start and I think we fed off one another early on," said McIlroy, who chipped in for an eagle on the sixth and holed from eight feet for another on the 16th.

"I hit a little bit of a lull at the start of the back nine when I was really trying to push on and make a few more birdies but made up for that with my finish on the last three holes.


"It's a nice way to round off the week. I was really disappointed coming off the course yesterday after feeling like my game was in really good shape coming here - you've seen glimpses of that this week with a 67 which could have been a lot better on Friday and then a 65 today. I just need to eradicate my mistakes.

"Even today I threw in a double-bogey, which has sort of been the story of not just my week, but my year so far. If I can get rid of those mistakes and play some of the golf that I have been playing there is no reason why I can't go on and contend a lot of weeks this year.

"Mentally I have to be better. I wasn't able to do that for a couple of days this week but I was able to do it today for the most part. If I can just be a bit better mentally then hopefully that will be the key for me."

McIlroy will defend his WGC-Dell Match Play title in Texas next week, but admits his main focus is trying to complete the career grand slam by winning the Masters from April 7-10.

"It's all about Augusta," the 26-year-old added. "Next week is a bit of a weird week for my final competitive week going into Augusta but it will be great to get some matches under my belt."

Day nearly squandered his two-shot overnight lead after a sluggish start saw Kevin Chappell take a one-shot lead to his final hole. However, as Day was birdieing the 17th, Chappell dropped a shot on the last to see the US PGA champion claim his first win on the PGA Tour this year.

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