We shall discover on Friday if hosting the Irish Open has been all too much for Rory McIlroy, who is seeking to avoid a second successive cut at his fifth event on the spin.
McIlroy has been caught these past two weeks between profession and celebrity. Not for him the luxury of just turning up at a tournament and walking straight to the range. No. There is a video to shoot, hands to shake, commitments to keep before he draws a club from the bag.
The world No 1 ran out of gas at Wentworth last week after stepping straight off a trans-Atlantic flight into a sponsor engagement in central London. The next day he was the principal guest at the European Tour awards dinner and on Wednesday a participant in a pro-am that featured a pop star and two former Manchester United footballers. No wonder there was little room in his head for golf.
After a weekend lying low at home in Northern Ireland, McIlroy claims to be sufficiently rested to apply himself to the day job in a way that brought him two wins in three events in the United States before heading back to Europe. With the second major of the season, the US Open, next up for McIlroy three weeks hence, now would be a good time to rediscover his focus.
“I wanted to play well last week but I think at the same time having the weekend off will benefit me for this week. I do feel refreshed,” he said. “I didn’t get out of bed until one o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday. I came here on Sunday and played a quiet 18 holes. I came back on Monday morning and played.
“I feel very prepared. That (yesterday’s) pro-am was my third practice round. I haven’t played three practice rounds for a tournament since the Masters. I really just want to do well this week and it (missing the cut) has given me a bit of extra time, which I think I can use.
“Even if you play four or five weeks in a row, physically you feel fine. It’s more just the mental challenge of trying to keep it at that high level the whole time. Sometimes you just need to let yourself come down for a few days. That’s what sort of happened. I just couldn’t really keep it going.”
McIlroy is to be commended for putting his name to an event, through his charitable “Rory Foundation” that has already raised six figures. Whatever prize money he earns this week will go straight into the pot.
“What I want to get out of it this year is just to raise a lot of money for the foundation, for the cancer fund, and ultimately if I play well, all the money that I earn is going to go towards that as well.
“So I’m not really playing for myself this week. I’m playing for a lot of other people and it gives me an incentive to go out there and enjoy it and try to play well.”
McIlroy’s involvement has attracted a stellar field, including Rickie Fowler, playing his first event since winning the Players Championship three weeks ago, and Sergio Garcia, who lost out to the American at Sawgrass in the play-off.
European heavyweights Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer also feature, with all five seeking an upswing in form to take to Chambers Bay.
McIlroy is grouped with Kaymer and Fowler, Westwood and McDowell have Miguel Angel Jimenez for company, while Donald plays with Ryder Cup skipper Darren Clarke and England’s Danny Willett.Reuse content