by Jeff Skinner
Even though Rory McIlroy didn’t walk off (pun intended) with the trophy at The WGC Cadillac Championship this week has to be considered a success for the young world number one.
Rory entered this week reeling from his “walk-off” at The Honda Classic and admitted to feeling at the lowest point in his professional career. The normally affable and confident Northern Irishman had tumbled off the pedestal we all had placed him on.
But true to his nature he stood up and faced the music at his pre-tournament press conference and apologized for his less than admirable exit from The Honda. He hoped to put it behind him and from the way he looked in the fourth round he may have done just that.
Rory’s issues can all be traced back to his poor performance on the course. He says his personal life is fine as is his new Nike equipment and his large contract is just a contract, not a burden.
It was his on course play, more specifically his golf swing that is the cause of his frustration. During this past week he spent hours and hours with his coach Michael Bannon to try and find his form.
He showed up Thursday with a new pre-shot routine which included a short practice take-away to try and reinforce his correct move. But he ditched that on Friday and over the weekend he seemed to take his short game coach’s advice. Dave Stockton has told him he plays better when he smiles and that looked like the Rory we saw today.
Its Rory’s version of the chicken or the egg: do the birdies bring the smiles or the smiles bring the birdies? Regardless, he lit it up today on the Blue Monster which gave Rory no reason to be afraid. His seven under 65 was by far his best round of the week and his swing appeared solid. There looked to be little indecisiveness on his part and yes, there were plenty of smiles.
He was even able to climb onto the first page of the leaderboard with his 72 hole total of 278. True, it’s not a victory but it’s a long way from the Honda Classic that’s for sure.
He realizes that his swing is a work in progress right now but was content with the day’s work. “I’m a lot more comfortable with what I’m trying to do” he said afterwards.
He may not have won but this weekend was a success as he moved on from the lowest point of his professional life and back to playing golf the way he does best, with a smile.