Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Crocked Rory McIlroy left seeking solace

Within hours of leaving Atlanta Athletic Club on Sunday afternoon, Rory McIlroy was sitting at courtside in Cincinnati with new girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki as the Danish tennis ace took a breather from practice.

It was nice to see McIlroy smiling and without a bandage on his right wrist after his grim 70-hole battle against injury at the Highlands Course.

The US Open champion risked a career-threatening injury when he slammed his seven-iron into a tree root while playing an ill-judged shot out of the rough to the left of the third hole on Thursday. Thankfully, the club took the brunt of the damage and McIlroy sustained no serious damage.

While McIlroy bravely broke through the pain barrier that afternoon to post an outstanding level-par 70 in that first round, he putted too poorly on the super-slick Bermuda grass greens over the next 54 holes in Atlanta to ever justify his ranking as pre-tournament favourite.

A share of 64th (worth $15,400) with Harrington, among others, on 11-over represents a disappointing end to the Major championship season for McIlroy, one of only 11 players to make the cut at all four of golf's Grand Slams in 2011.

Going into the PGA, McIlroy was tied with Masters champion Charl Schwartzel on 13-under for the year's first three Majors and the South African won that race by 12 strokes after finishing tied-12th on one-under last Sunday.

Yet McIlroy's record-shattering victory at Congressional, coming just 70 days after his final-day meltdown at Augusta, was the most staggering performance by any player at the Majors this year, even taking Schwartzel's four straight finishing birdies at the Masters into consideration.

McIlroy's impetuous nature causes him to take risks on the golf course and talk his way into trouble off it; his putting, once again, must be considered suspect and his on-course demeanour has not been good as he has grappled with huge expectations since the US Open.

Yet he is still golf's greatest hope of wowing a new generation of youngsters.

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