Belfast Telegraph

Friday 24 October 2014

McIlroy content with Open build-up

Rory McIlroy goes into the Open on a run of disappointing form

For fans of Rory McIlroy, it was difficult to know what to make of the mixed messages coming from the world number two during his unfortunately brief appearance at the Irish Open.

First came the confession that he was feeling "a little lost" after an opening round of 74 that had him unsure of whether errant drives would be sprayed to the right or left of Carton House's lush fairways.

Then came a second round of 72 in which McIlroy insisted he saw a few positive signs - signs which were somewhat harder to see from outside the ropes - but still resulted in a fourth missed cut of the year.

The 24-year-old conceded his tournament schedule this year had been "light" and that a new Nike driver was still not 100 per cent what he was looking for, yet proceeded to confirm a cousin's wedding and sponsor commitments meant he would not add the French or Scottish Opens to his schedule before Muirfield.

"If I did not have those commitments I probably would, but as long as I play rounds and be competitive myself - play with one ball - it's the same sort of thing," said McIlroy, who did add the Texas Open to his schedule before the Masters and finished second behind Scotland's Martin Laird.

"My schedule has been light, but from the Open onwards I am playing seven events in nine or 10 weeks. I still have a lot of golf to play. Two weeks is a lot of time to try and get something right and hopefully I will be ready for Muirfield."

Whether that is enough preparation remains to be seen and McIlroy's critics will no doubt continue to lay the blame for his poor form at his off-course activities.

Last year he gave US President Barack Obama swing tips during a state banquet at the White House, met the Queen at Newbury races and was invited on court to hit a few shots with Maria Sharapova. He also threw the opening pitch at the Major League Baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros.

There have been four top-10s but finishes of 25th and 41st in the year's first two majors, the US Open also bringing incidents of club throwing and bending a nine iron out of shape in a final round of 76 at Merion.

It is therefore no wonder that three-time major winner Padraig Harrington believes an "erratic genius" like McIlroy must learn to accept the highs and not worry about the lows in his game for the good of his career. "If he does that, there will be fewer lows and more highs," Harrington said. McIlroy fans will be hoping another high is just around the corner.

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