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Six months in the life of a (former) World Number One

The golfing world has watched with mixed reactions over the recent misfortunes and performances of Northern Ireland's Rory Mcilroy

The golfing world has watched with mixed reactions over the recent misfortunes and performances of Northern Ireland’s Rory Mcilroy. Sporting superpower Nike signed the talented golfer towards the end of last season with this year’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship chosen to unveil their new prize possession. His decline since this moment onwards will naturally be compared to his equipment change but what is the actual reason for Rory’s recent poor performances on the golf course.

Struggling in particular outside of the US Rory has missed all three cuts in his European Tour Events (Abu Dhabi, Wentworth Irish Open) but has admittedly performed a little better on the PGA Tour still amassing a little over $1.45 million for the season to date. The performances that will frustrate him most though are the major championships. A missed cut at the most recent major, The Open Championship, combined with a 41st 25th place at the US Open and Masters will hurt.
For a player that has already obliterated fields twice over in Major Championships of past, nerves nor technical ability cannot be to blame.
From a coaching point of view I can say that his golf swing has barely changed. A little mistiming in his lower body causing the club to get trapped does happen every so often but how many times have we heard this evaluation (Tiger?!). One thing that has evidently changed is his demeanor and body language around the golf course. Watching him towards the end of last year he used to appear as though he was bouncing around a course instead of walking, he had moments of steely concentration and determination but used to smile along the way. Not anymore.

Now having all played this game we can understand that playing badly can be gut-wrenching. No wonder Rory doesn’t want to smile, he is more than likely counting the holes until he has finished or racking his brain trying to figure out what is going wrong. The most interesting comment I heard him make in a recent interview after a round was that he was overthinking off of the golf course and underthinking on it. Rory’s natural mentor (whether he would admit it or not) would be Tiger. One thing that Tiger has always had about him is a presence. Shoulders back, steady stride and a confident attitude, even most of the way through his so-called slump. Another notable trait of Tiger’s is to always take the positives from a round. I have lost count of the amount of times he has hit the ball everywhere but spoken to the television cameras and during press conferences about how strong his short game was, or the fact he hit the ball well but just didn’t score. In many ways, Rory could be too honest in his public self-appraisal, possibly time to put on that Tiger act and do the thinking with his talented team out of the spotlight of the media.

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One thing is for sure is that Rory is far too talented for his poor form to continue for much longer. A little more than 8 months ago he was wrapping up the money titles on both sides of the pond with that finish at Jumeirah Golf Estates that I had the pleasure to witness. Whether he has a tick on his hat or any other logo for that matter the talented Ulsterman challenging Tiger once again in the near future.

Craeg Deery

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