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Rory McIlroy staying positive after WGC collapse

By Liam Kelly

Published 08/03/2016

Meltdown: Rory McIlroy threw away a four-shot lead in Doral
Meltdown: Rory McIlroy threw away a four-shot lead in Doral

The days when professional golfers were concerned essentially with only two numbers are long gone.

Those numbers were (a) what score did I shoot? and (b) what is the amount of money written on my cheque at the end of a tournament?

By those simple criteria, the vast majority of professionals have judged their proficiency and success in the paid ranks for over 150 years.

Those at the top of the pyramid in every era have applied themselves to winning Major championship titles and Tour titles once they had risen through the ranks, but at its core, golf is a cold, merciless, numbers game.

The big difference between the prime of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player and the generations that went before them, is this age of internet and ever-advancing technol­ogy which makes players aware of the tiny fractions that can affect outcomes.

In a game of inches, analysis has reached forensic level, and there is a 'Moneyball' element.

Moneyball is a book written by Michael Lewis about the Oakland Athletics baseball team gen­eral manager Billy Beane.

Beane revolutionised the recruit­ment of players by using a method of evaluating potential signings on performance statistics to create a winning team.

Padraig Harrington sees how golfers have bought in to the potential of these methods every week on Tour.

He acknowledges the benefits which players such as Brandt Snedeker and Billy Horschel have derived from the stats gurus, but does not fully sub­scribe to the process for himself - at least not yet.

"Essentially he (Horton) tells them 'This is where you hit it, this is how the hole plays, this is a birdie hole and the winner plays these holes this way, this is where he gets birdies...'.

"It's like, complete Moneyball. I believe Moneyball when it comes to baseball, but in my own sport, I'm a bit more intuitive."

Meanwhile Rory McIlroy was re­viewing his own statistics on the par 5s at Trump National in Doral where he finished two shots behind winner Adam Scott in the WGC-Cadillac championship.

McIlroy had a four-shot lead after four holes of the final round but ended up with 74, two over par and disappointed.

"I didn't make enough birdies. I felt like my game was okay for the most part. I didn't take advantage of the holes I should have. I couldn't birdie any of the par 5s and that's really what killed me," said McIlroy.

His next tournament is the Arnold Palmer Classic at Bay Hill which starts on Thursday week.

"A lot of things did go right for me. I need to just pick myself back up and get into contention again in Orlando and see if I can get the win there," said McIlroy.

Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke are in action this week in the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort in Florida.

Michael Hoey is the only Irish player in the European Tour's True Thailand Classic this week.

Belfast Telegraph

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