Rory McIlroy recalls the days when golf was a joy to play

 

Well, at least he can't miss the cut this week. Rory McIlroy sets out at Firestone to rekindle the spirit of 2012, when he finished fifth at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational en route one week later to his second major title.

A fortnight ago he declared his game brain-dead after missing the cut at the Open Championship, a reaction that typified his overly wrought emotional state.

It is worth reminding his detractors that he played his final 10 holes at Muirfield in one under par, not enough to keep him in the tournament but sufficient to release him from the tyranny of a mind in turmoil. A field of only 72 guarantees four days' work for McIlroy, who warmed up for this event playing golf with his mates in Northern Ireland.

"It's nice to just go out and play for the sake of playing, not because you have to," he said. "It makes you realise why you play the game, why you started – because you love the game. When you were younger you would do anything you could to get out on the golf course. It's great to just play with friends you have grown up with."

Before that he enjoyed four days in Monaco with his beloved Caroline Wozniacki, precious time away from the noise generated by the post-Nike nosedive. He was oblivious, therefore, to the vacuous advice from Gary Player, who suggested McIlroy might do worse than to get a wife and stick with her.

"I don't know what he said. This is the first time I've heard it. I don't really know. All I know is I've got a lot of respect for the man, and he's someone that I definitely look up to."

That is better than the counsel deserved. Of more value, perhaps, is the contribution of the putting coach Dave Stockton, who reminded McIlroy of the perils of wearing his heart on his sleeve.

"I've always said it's easier to smile when you are making birdies," said McIlroy, "but the thing he said last year that I am trying to do again is that if someone is watching you from the outside, don't let them know whether you have made a birdie or a bogey.

"I've become a little too emotionally involved with my golf over the past few months and let it either get me excited or down, where I should not get too high or too low."

McIlroy is paired today with Brandt Snedeker, whose victory in Canada last week was a resurrection of sorts and therefore an example of what might be after a season of persistent struggles following injury.

Snedeker once remarked that McIlroy had more talent in his little finger than he had in his whole being. That was obviously overstating the case, but the sentiment was pointing in the right direction.

In other blue-chip pairings, the US Open champion Justin Rose goes out with the Open champion Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood is alongside Webb Simpson and Luke Donald with Keegan Bradley, the defending champion.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Life and Style
Could you tell the difference between this and an organic alternative?
food + drink

Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

News
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday

Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Sivero in Goodfellas; Simpsons' wise guy Louie

The sound of Goodfellas mafioso Frankie Carbone demanding $250m in “damages” would be chilling enough on film, let alone in real life.

News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
News
i100
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?