SAN DIEGO — “What’s wrong?’’
This has turn into a nagging query posed to some of the world’s best players — typically when it appears an unfair inquiry.
What’s wrong with Rory McIlroy, who hasn’t gained a serious championship since 2014 and whose solely U.S. Open win got here a decade in the past?
Well, he gained the Wells Fargo Championship final month at Quail Hollow. But he missed the lower on the Masters and completed in a tie for forty ninth on the PGA Championship, and golf (like all sport) is a what-have-you-done-lately recreation.
McIlroy has had explicit issues early in main championships, struggling in opening rounds and enjoying himself out of rivalry.
Asked Wednesday, on the eve of the primary spherical of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, what he attributes his first-round struggles to, McIlroy was fast to reply.
“Probably simply placing a bit of an excessive amount of stress on myself, enjoying too rigorously, being a bit of tentative,’’ McIlroy stated.
When you’re as gifted as McIlroy is and you win 4 main championships in your first 4 years as a professional, you elevate expectations. This is what he battles each time he tees it up in a serious.
Asked what he can do to fight the stress, he stated, “I suppose by being detached, by not caring, however by not placing myself beneath stress that I’ve to care.
“If I went out and performed this golf course every other week, you play free, and it’s simply the identical factor. You simply have to have the ability to swing with that freedom, and that’s kind of what I’m attempting to get again to. It’s about going on the market and enjoying as free as I can and having that mentality that I had as a 22-year-old and simply attempting to get into that mindset.’’
McIlroy stated he not too long ago hung out with Pete Cowan, his swing coach, and feels good about his recreation getting into this week.
“The technical and mechanical components of it are all there,’’ he stated. “It’s only a matter of going out in a U.S. Open setting and simply trusting what I’ve been doing in follow, and then that will get extra into the psychological facet of issues and simply being actually clear and actually dedicated in what you’re attempting to do and being as free on the course as I’m on the vary.
“That’s the massive problem, however by way of the place all the things’s heading, it’s undoubtedly in the best path.’’
The query has additionally been posed to Dustin Johnson, who stays the No. 1 ranked participant on the planet regardless of not having gained because the 2020 Masters in November and has one top-10 end since.
What’s wrong with Johnson, who has at the least one victory in every of his first 13 years on the PGA Tour?
Johnson missed the lower on the 2021 Masters as he tried to defend his inexperienced jacket. He, too, missed the lower on the PGA Championship final month, and is in jeopardy of slipping from his No. 1 rating perch this week with one other poor efficiency.
Justin Thomas can overtake Johnson at No. 1 this week with a win and if Johnson finishes worse than a tie for seventeenth. Jon Rahm can overtake Johnson if he wins and Johnson finishes worse than in a two-way tie for 18th.
Johnson, as ordinary, sounded fully unaffected by any of his perceived struggles when he spoke Wednesday.
“If I can drive it properly, I really feel like I’m going to have a very good week,’’ he stated. “Fairways are fairly slender, the course is lengthy. If I can hit the driving force good, I like my probabilities.’’
The fascinating dynamic between Johnson and McIlroy, each of whom have been on the prime of the game for the previous a number of years, is that McIlroy may use a few of Johnson’s indifference. This is to not say that Johnson doesn’t care, as a result of he does. It’s simply that Johnson by no means offers off a vibe like he’s urgent.
“At Augusta, I used to be nonetheless in the midst of a transition of caught in between what I used to be attempting to do in my swing, and it wasn’t an ideal week,’’ McIlroy stated. “At Kiawah, I felt like I went into the week enjoying fairly properly. I struggled on the left-to-right winds there. Since then, I’ve modified my driver setup a bit of bit, and I really feel much more snug with that.
“Walking off Muirfield Village a pair Sundays in the past [at the Memorial], I stated to Harry [Diamond, his caddie], I felt like I performed higher at Memorial than I did at Quail Hollow. I completed 18th at Memorial and I gained Quail Hollow. It’s golf on the finish of the day, and typically it’s simply unpredictable.’’