British Open 2018: Rory McIlroy hopes to break major slump by “winging it”
Has it really been four years since Rory McIlroy last won a major championship?
When said like that, it feels like an eternity. Worse yet, a slump. Some might consider it one given McIlroy’s enormous talent and how quickly he amassed his first four major titles, winning them all by age 25 and in a span of 15 majors between 2011 and 2015.
In reality, the 29-year-old has played 13 majors in the years since and has finished in the top 10 in eight of them, in the top five in four of them and contended in at least a few of them. That included at this year’s Masters, where many that afternoon expected that he would overcome a three-shot deficit to Patrick Reed on the final day and vanquish the Masters meltdowns and missed opportunities of yesteryear to become just the sixth player to complete the career Grand Slam.
Still, four years ago you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone who would have thought Rors would still be stuck on a quartet of majors. He won four times that year, including a major, a WGC and the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA, earned a career-best $5.88 million and finished the year No. 1 in the world.
McIlroy has won eight titles around the world since, including one earlier this year at Bay Hill, but his major total remains. By comparison, should Jordan Spieth—four-plus year’s McIlroy’s junior—win the PGA Championship later this summer, he’ll get to the Career Slam first, another proposition few would have taken in 2014, when Spieth had yet to win even one major.
This year, McIlroy had a chance to add to the total at Augusta but his putting never looked good from the moment he missed an 3-footer for eagle that went low and right on the par-5 second that would have pulled him even with Reed on Sunday. It was a familiar refrain in the year’s next major at Shinnecock Hills, where he missed the cut for the third straight U.S. Open. The poor performance rightly drew the attention of European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, who was working for Sky Sports as an analyst that week.
“There are definitely issues that need to be addressed,” he said. “He’s not the new kid on the block any more. When he was winning his majors, he was out on his own and drove the ball better than anyone else. But now there are five or six guys who can drive the ball as long and as straight as him. This is a new phase of his career and it’s going to take a new attitude and a new drive to go with it. That’s what is missing.”
McIlroy’s chances last month at the U.S. Open should have been bolstered by a lengthy preparation. After tying for eighth at the Memorial, the Northern Irishman spent two weeks honing his game on a variety of Long Island’s upper crust courses, including the tournament host site, Shinnecock. Instead, he opened with an 80 and never made it to the weekend, despite a 10-shot turnaround the next day.
Source: Brian Wacker, Golf Digest