AUGUSTA, Ga. – As Rory McIlroy drove residence from a current go to to see Tiger Woods, who is recovering from accidents sustained in a automobile crash, he couldn’t cease enthusiastic about the trophy cupboard with 15 main championship baubles in Tiger’s household room. McIlroy questioned where the remainder of the trophies from his 82 PGA Tour titles and varied different worldwide victories have been housed.
“He said, ‘I don’t know.’ I go, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Yeah, my mom has some, and a few are in the office and a few are wherever,’” McIlroy recalled in his pre-tournament interview forward of the 85th Masters. “That was just always in my mind, he talked about these are the four weeks that matter. So, the weeks that didn’t matter, you know, he racked them up at a pretty fast clip. But I’m just thinking to myself, how easy must that have felt for him if all he cared about were four weeks a year. The other stuff must have been like practice. So that’s like a really—that’s a cool perspective to have, right. Yeah, that’s all I could think about on the way home.”
Well, there was another factor: “And I’m was glad he was OK, too.”
McIlroy’s thoughts this week is dedicated to successful the Masters and turning into the fifth participant to finish the profession Grand Slam. Yet he arrived at Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday mired in what qualifies as a droop for him. He hasn’t received because the WGC-HSBC in China in November 2019 and has fallen to No. 12 on the earth. His main drought dates to the 2014 PGA Championship.
“It’s amazing to me that he hasn’t won here yet,” mentioned ESPN golf analyst Curtis Strange. “I certainly expect him to, but this year, he’s going to have to find something quickly.”
Indeed, McIlroy, who completed T-5 on the Masters in November after a gap 75, enters this week with lowered expectations having flamed out of the Players Championship in March. After capturing 79-75 and lacking the minimize, McIlroy enlisted swing teacher Pete Cowen, who he’s identified since he was 13, to attempt to revamp his swing. The pairing with Cowen, who has tasted main championship glory with the likes of Henrik Stenson, Graeme McDowell and Brooks Koepka, simply to call a number of, is an intriguing match. Count Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee amongst these curious to see if a contemporary set of eyes will pay fast dividends for McIlroy.
“I think one of the most exciting things going into this Masters really for me is to see what Pete Cowen and Rory McIlroy are capable of doing when they’re home for a week and they have time to work on—if you’re arguably looking at the most talented golfer in the world and you’re already talking about arguably the most talented teacher—I’m curious what those two could do,” Chamblee mentioned.
McIlroy blamed his swing issues—he ranks No. 146 in driving accuracy and his wedge recreation has been atrocious, rating No. 202 from 75-100 yards this season—on bad habits developed during speed training drills within the fall chasing distance after Bryson DeChambeau overpowered Winged Foot and dominated the sector by six strokes on the U.S. Open. ESPN’s host of its Masters protection Scott Van Pelt discovered it exceptional that McIlroy of all folks went down a rabbit gap searching for extra distance.
“He saw what Bryson did at Winged Foot and thought, well, I’ve got to get me some of that. That’s just amazing to me,” Van Pelt mentioned throughout a media convention name. “The notion that his good enough wasn’t good enough, I just can’t fathom that.”
To McIlroy’s credit score, he has realized his recreation was heading down a slippery path. It’s too early to inform whether or not he can nip these unhealthy habits within the bud, however a brand new set of eyes could also be simply what he wanted.
Justin Thomas (left) and Rory McIlroy stroll throughout the Sarazen Bridge on the fifteenth gap throughout a observe spherical for the 2021 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. (Photo: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports)
“When you don’t understand why you’re hitting certain shots, you can become lost and you can start to think of all sorts of stuff,” McIlroy defined. “I felt like every time I was going to the range, I was trying something different. Now I feel like I’m on a path that’s a little more structured and I have a better understanding of why I’m doing things and why certain shots do what they do and why certain movements produce a golf shot.”
He made a decisive transfer to beef up his staff, particularly with it being troublesome for longtime coach Michael Bannon, who relies in Northern Ireland, to work with McIlroy attributable to COVID-19 journey restrictions. But can the four-time Northern Irishman main winner flip it round rapidly sufficient to be an element within the Masters?
“I don’t think he’s that far off,” Strange mentioned. “He is one swing thought away from shooting 65 every day.”
“You can go out to the range one day completely lacking in confidence and think you stink, and walk home that night and feel like you’re Jack Nicklaus and think I found it,” mentioned Chamblee, echoing the identical sentiment.
But whereas McIlroy would really like nothing greater than to rediscover his main mojo, he’s taking a extra sensible long-term method.
“I’m just at the start of a journey here that I know will get me back to where I want to be,” McIlroy mentioned.
And simply what sort of a golfer does hope to be?
“I think that golfer going forward is just a little more knowledgeable about what he does and how he swings the club and the movements that he needs to make to basically hit three shots, right: Hit a draw, hit a fade, hit one straight. That’s all you need to do in the game of golf. It’s not that hard. It seems it at times.”
Four golfers won the Masters after winning on PGA Tour the week before