Time for McIlroy to stop playing catch-up at the Majors

Bernie McGuire

Rory McIlroy speaks to the media during a practice round prior to the 120th U.S. Open Championship (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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Rory McIlroy revealed he’s got his hands ‘dirty’ changing his daughter’s nappy and reckons it’s now time to get dirty on the golf course and stop playing catch-up in the majors.

It’s been six years since McIlroy captured his fourth major championship title in winning the 2014 PGA Championship in the near darkness at Valhalla in Kentucky.

In his four victories – 2011 U.S. Open, 2012 PGA Championship, 2014 Open Championship and 2012 PGA Championship – McIlroy has posted an average first round score of 66.

Though that’s all changed over the past few seasons with McIlroy posting scores like an opening 70 on day one of the 2016 Masters before fighting his way to ninth while at the 2016 U.S. Open he missed the cut and never bounced back from a first round 77.

Last year, it was a first round 73 at the Masters before becoming an Augusta afterthought in sharing 21st place while a few months later at The Open at Royal Portrush, McIlroy shocked not only himself but the entire Emerald Isle in driving ‘OB’ down the very first hole.

“If you’ve looked at my major championship performances over the last few years, I’ve just gotten off to slow starts and it’s just put a little too much pressure on myself going into tournaments,” he said.

“And from there, shooting a bad score on the first day and putting yourself under even more pressure from there to just make it to the weekend, and then to try to play catch-up. I think that’s been the big thing.

“When I start tournaments well, I seem to stay up there. I started Pebble last year with a nice score (68) and stayed up there for the most part.

“I didn’t quite finish the week the way I wanted to (Finished T9th) but that’s been the big thing for me. If I can start and put a good solid round together on a Thursday, I’m usually right there.”

It’s also now been over a fortnight since McIlroy became a father to daughter, Poppy and while he says he got his ‘hands dirty’ very early in changing the first two nappies, it’s back to some normality in the McIlroy abode so much so, wife Erica is again taking to the streets of the ultra-private Bears Club estate on her daily ‘4K’ morning runs.

And it led, as McIlroy had touched on at last fortnight’s Tour Championship in Atlanta, to him again suggesting that fatherhood may see McIlroy finally adding to his major championship title collection.

“I sort of referenced this in Atlanta as becoming a father just puts things in perspective a little bit,” he said.

“Not that this — not that my career — it matters to me and I care about it very much, but at the same time, it makes the hard days a little easier to get over, right. And I’m not saying that I want to have hard days to get over, but yeah, you’re a little more relaxed.

“When I say it’s not the be-all and end-all, it’s a major championship and I’ve grown up my whole life dreaming of winning these tournaments, and that’s not going to change, but if it doesn’t quite happen, I can live with that and go home and be very happy and leave what’s happened at the golf course at the golf course.

“I think that’s maybe something that I haven’t done so well in the past is I haven’t left my job at the office basically, I’ve brought it home with me, and I’ve let it affect my mood and how I am.

“I think having that little bit more perspective definitely helps.”

This week marks McIlroy’s 12th U.S. Open showing and 46th major championship.

It’s also been 20 majors over the course of the six years since McIlroy last tasted success at the game’s highest level.

McIlroy had played 18 holes of Winged Foot Monday and a late afternoon nine-holes on Tuesday ahead another nine holes later today (WED).

McIlroy finds himself drawn to play the opening two rounds in the company of Aussie Adam Scott and fellow former U.S. Open winner, Justin Rose.

The trio will tee-off at 1.07pm Irish time (Thursday) from Winged Foot’s 10th tee at the same time Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa will hit off the first.

Graeme McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champ, is out earlier at 1.18pm alongside Matt Kuchar and fellow U.S Open winner (2009) champ, Lucas Glover.

Shane Lowry has been drawn with reigning U.S. Open champ, Gary Woodland along with amateur Andy Ogletree starting at 6.05pm Irish while last year’s Amateur champ James Sugrue will tee-up at 5.54pm (Irish) grouped with double Masters winning Bubba Watson and 44-time winning, Lee Westwood.


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