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Sunday 20 August 2017

McIlroy hoping to turn the tide

AT the press conference to announce his multi-million pound deal with Nike in January, Rory McIlroy was keen to stress major titles mattered more to him than money.

"I don't play golf for the money, I am well past that," McIlroy said in Abu Dhabi after signing a deal reported to be worth around £150million (€173m) over 10 years.

"I'm a major champion and world number one, which I have always dreamed of being, and feel this is a company that can help me sustain that and win even more major titles.

"At the end of 2013, if I have not won another major I will be disappointed."

Two months after expressing those thoughts, McIlroy was replaced as world number one by Tiger Woods and now finds himself third in the rankings behind Phil Mickelson.

And unless he retains his US PGA title this week at Oak Hill, that disappointment of not winning a major championship in 2013 will hit home too.

The bookmakers have the 24-year-old Irishman as a 28/1 seventh favourite to lift the Wanamaker Trophy again and it is hard to argue with those odds. In fact it could easily be argued they are not generous enough.

McIlroy won five times last year, including his second major by eight shots at Kiawah Island, to finish top of the money list on both sides of the Atlantic.

But he has recorded only one top-five finish in a turbulent 2013 that saw him damage his reputation by walking off the course during his defence of the Honda Classic and bending one of his new clubs out of shape during the final round of the US Open.

In the majors he has managed just one round under 70 – a closing 69 in the US Masters – and is a collective 28 over par after missing the cut in the British Open Championship after rounds of 79 and 75.

 

WITHERING

That opening round at Muirfield led McIlroy to offer a withering assessment of his own performance, labelling it "brain dead" and claiming he sometimes felt "like I'm walking around out there and I'm unconscious".

Such honesty made for great headlines, but is it great for McIlroy?

"Sometimes I wish I wasn't so honest but it's just me," he said.

"I am not going to sit up here and pour my heart out but I will tell you how I am thinking and what's on my mind.

"If I get asked a reasonable question I will give a reasonable answer."

The answer to McIlroy's problems on the course may prove harder to find, but the Ryder Cup star is hoping a few enjoyable rounds with friends back home in the North coupled with the advice of putting coach Dave Stockton, will set him on the right track.

"I've heard the rough is up at Oak Hill from when I was there six weeks ago so I'm looking forward to seeing what that's like," he said.

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