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Compass: Home | News | News from Around the Web | Offsite Article [ Tue Dec 12, 2017 16:20 ] [ Refresh ]

Offsite News Article A Better-Than-Ever Rory McIlroy?

by Jeff Shain
Jun 17, 2015

Source: New York Times
Article URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/18/sports/golf/a-better-than-ever-rory-mcilr...
Associated Tournament: 2015 U.S. Open Championship
Associated Players: Seve Ballesteros, Rickie Fowler, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Jordan Spieth

Below is the text from the article:

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2015 U.S. Open Championship
U.S. Open Championship
after 4 rounds (finished)
1 J. Spieth -5 $1,800,000
2 L. Oosthuizen -4 $877,144
2 D. Johnson -4 $877,144
4 A. Scott -3 $407,037
4 C. Smith -3 $407,037
4 B. Grace -3 $407,037
7 C. Schwartzel -2 $311,835
T - traded on an active market
[ entire results ]
When everything is in sync, Rory McIlroy is every bit the world-beater he’s cracked up to be.

One only has to look back to early May to see the world’s top-ranked player at his finest.

Two weeks after dispatching all challengers to win the WGC Match Play, McIlroy was setting records with his seven-shot romp at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Yet only two weeks after that, the 26-year-old star was looking dazed and befuddled, carding an 80 at Royal County Down in an Irish Open that benefits his charity and where he serves as host. The next day, another missed cut left him with more unexpected down time.

It isn’t exactly the kind of momentum anyone would like to take into the year’s second major.

But perhaps all McIlroy really needed was a little rest before he sets out for Chambers Bay in quest of a second U.S. Open crown starting Thursday.

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Rory McIlroy on the golf course at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Fla.Rory McIlroy Has the Best Swing in GolfMARCH 31, 2015
“Mentally, I was ready to have a little break,” McIlroy said last week during a stop at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, where he will defend his PGA Championship crown in August.

“I just got away from it, did some other things that I enjoy,” he said.

“Gearing up for the second major of the year, my game is feeling in really great shape,” he added. “I feel like I can have another summer not too dissimilar to last year.”

That would surely be disheartening news to McIlroy’s closest rivals, who saw the Northern Irishman sweep through two majors and a World Golf Championship event to firmly set himself up as the man to beat.

“You look at a guy like him, he kind of has that Tigeresque drive to do more,” his compatriot Graeme McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, told reporters at the BMW PGA Championship in England last month, as McIlroy accepted the European Tour’s 2014 Player of the Year honors.

“He feels very driven right now,” McDowell added, “and certainly it would not surprise me to go on and see him continue with some strong play this year.”

Like Woods once did, McIlroy has shown himself capable of remarkable feats whenever he tees it up.

He dominated TPC Harding Park’s closing holes on the way to the WGC Match Play crown, winning twice in extra frames and once on the 18th green.

Two weeks later, he took control of the Wells Fargo Championship with a third-round 61. He went on to a seven-stroke romp, the third time that he has won a PGA Tour event by at least that many strokes.

Suddenly, all the chatter about Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Masters champion, or Rickie Fowler, the Players Championship winner, stopped cold.

McIlroy insists that it wasn’t a statement, but more like a fairly emphatic reminder that he’s still around. Nonetheless, it carried impact.

“I feel like I’m in a generation with a lot of young guys that are coming up,” he told the BBC, “and I want to be the best of this generation.”

On the other hand, McIlroy has not yet shown that relentless consistency that marked Woods’s reign atop the sport.

Still basking in the glow of his Wells Fargo performance, McIlroy returned to Europe and promptly missed the cut in back-to-back weeks.

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An early exit from the BMW PGA was not all that unusual, given that McIlroy has found hot-and-cold results at Wentworth.

The stunner came with his opening 80 at Royal County Down, where he looked helpless to turn around a bad day.

It proved too much to avoid another missed cut.

To be fair, the Irish Open was his fifth consecutive start in an odyssey that spanned eight time zones, taking him from Harding Park in San Francisco to Wentworth in England and Royal County Down in Northern Ireland.

That had not been McIlroy’s original plan, though. He had intended to skip Wells Fargo and play the Memorial Tournament in Ohio under Jack Nicklaus’s watchful eye.

But in the days after the Masters, McIlroy saw his name below No.100 in the FedExCup standings and decided to do something sooner rather than later.

He added the Wells Fargo to his schedule and sent Nicklaus his regrets.

The downside is that as a result, McIlroy arrived in Britain running on low power.

Even a concerted effort to conserve energy was not enough, especially as McIlroy fulfilled host duties at the Irish Open.

“It’s more just the mental challenge of trying to keep it at that high level the whole time,” McIlroy said. “Sometimes you just need to let yourself come down for a few days. That’s sort of what happened.”

If rest is all that McIlroy needs, his driving should be an early indicator at Chambers Bay this week. His powerful, accurate drives create the building block for the rest of his game.

“When his driving is on, it’s probably where a lot of his confidence comes from,” Fowler said. “When he’s on point, hitting his lines, that gives him so much more confidence throughout the rest of his game. That’s where he’s able to kind of push on and take it to another level.”

A victory at Chambers Bay would give McIlroy five major titles, drawing him even with Byron Nelson, Seve Ballesteros and Phil Mickelson on the all-time list. That would add more fuel to the debate about whether McIlroy, still only 26, can equal Woods’s 14 majors or even Nicklaus’s 18.

For now, however, he will try not to get ahead of himself.

“I want to win a lot more tournaments,” McIlroy said. “I can win a lot more majors. I haven’t put a number on it because I don’t want to put that burden on myself.”

“I just want to be better than everyone else,” he added.


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