Rory McIlroy heads into next week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open spotlight defending criticism of his game by insisting golf is littered with Major Champions riding a roller-coaster of career ups-and-downs.
After an encouraging first round 64 in last week’s Travelers Championship, McIlroy finished as an after-thought, a distant 12th place and six shots behind Bubba Watson.
The double Masters winning Watson shot a sizzling closing day 63 to become the first triple Connecticut champion and also the first on the PGA Tour’s 2017/18 wrapround schedule to bag three wins this season.
Once again, McIlroy promised so much but frustratingly failed to challenge over the weekend.
On the plus side, it was the first occasion this PGA Tour season McIlroy’s shot four rounds in the 60s and certainly a marked improvement on his scores of 80 and 70 a week earlier in the U.S. Open.
McIlroy also held his World No. 7 ranking, with Watson making the biggest leap from 80th to the new World No.20.
Watson has also virtually assured himself a trip to Versailles later this year, seven years after the controversy that marred his unceremonious visit to the 2011 French Open when he heavily criticised crowd distraction.
Of course, it didn’t help Bubba’s cause when he failed to take-in the names of any of the famed Paris landmarks such as calling the Louvre as “That building that starts with an L”, and the Arc de Triumphant as ‘that big archway in the middle of the road’”.
No such concern for McIlroy who continues to lie second on the ‘World’ European Team points table.
McIlroy’s only concern, in what will be his last year as hosting the Irish Open before handing over to Paul McGinley for 2019 remains inside the ropes.
“The game’s okay. Look, it’s never that far away,” he said prior to jetting back home to Florida.
“I can hold it together and play okay, but just need to do a little bit of work and get my confidence up if anything. I’m just a little uncomfortable over the ball at the minute.”
“I am swinging it really well and struggling with the putter.”
“If you look back all through history and the guys that have done really well and been consistent throughout their careers, they’ve always been superior ball strikers. Then they’ll have their weeks on the green which are good and some weeks that aren’t.”
“Look at someone like a Vijay Singh as there are a lot of players that have had consistently good careers like (Angel) Cabrera where they get the putter hot and they’ll have their weeks, but they’re never struggling to make cuts whenever your ball striking is good, I guess.”
IRISH WORLD RANKINGS – UPDATE
No. 7 – Rory McIlroy (Unchanged)
No. 77 – Paul Dunne (Down 6)
No. 88 – Shane Lowry (Down 3)
No. 177 – Graeme McDowell (Down 4)
No. 270 – Padraig Harrington (Down 18)
No. 462 – Gavin Moynihan (Up 31)
No. 1927 – Darren Clarke (Down 27)
AND …. No. 82 – Tiger Woods (Down 3)