Rory McIlroy has to forget past triumphs if he is to win the US Open

Tipsters Review - 27-Aug-2020

 

Rory McIlroy has to forget past triumphs if he is to win the US Open


 

While it may feel like yesterday that Rory McIlroy was winning majors in his early 20s, few would have expected that a spell of six years without lifting one of golf’s big four was about to set in. McIlroy’s 2014 PGA Championship win at Valhalla was the last time he won a major, with the Northern Irishman since failing to deliver sustained success to match his supreme talent.

McIlroy has struggled to assert himself in the majors, seemingly stunted by the pressure heaped on him by those who rated him so highly as a young player. To watch McIlroy in one of the big four events is to see a player trying so hard, that he seems to lose touch with his natural talents. To be a serial winner in golf requires a natural ability to make the game look effortless, to simply enjoy the rounds and let one’s instincts and natural talent take over.

By contrast, McIlroy often looks like he isn’t enjoying being out there, constantly finding himself cut adrift from the leaders and playing catchup on Saturday and Sunday. Indeed, at last year’s Open Championship, the Northern Irishman seemed completely overwhelmed by the event at Royal Portrush, the pressure of the home crowd weighing heavily on his shoulders.

The recent PGA Championship was another event in which McIlroy failed to assert himself. A top 33 finish is not the level the Northern Irishman aspires to, and it caused him to reassess his own abilities. “Maybe I'm just not as good as I used to be," he mused after the event. "I can't really put my finger on it. I go out there and try my best every single day. Some days I play better than others. I've just got to keep going and keep persisting and see if I can do better the next time."

The next major is the US Open in September, where McIlroy will be hoping that his fortunes at the big events finally change. The current US Open golf odds place the Northern Irishman as one of the leading contenders to win the event at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, but McIlroy will once again be under immense pressure to end his barren spell at the four majors.

Last year at the US Open, McIlroy enjoyed a decent outing at Pebble Beach, California, finishing in the top nine, but he was eight shots adrift of winner Gary Woodland. The different conditions on the east coast may play into McIlroy’s hands, with all three of his previous major wins in the US taking place in the eastern half of the country.

Victory won’t come easy, with the likes of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm all tipped to do well, but perhaps the key for McIlroy is to forget the victories he’s enjoyed in the past and treat the upcoming US Open as if he’s seeking his first major title. If he can somehow conjure a more relaxed mentality, and if he can forget about that six-year cloud hovering over him, he may just feel more comfortable in the surroundings of one of golf’s big four events.

McIlroy’s initial major successes came swift and sweet when he was still a young, inexperienced golfer, free of the weight of the expectation which has since enshrouded him. Perhaps the path to future success lies in shaking off whatever self-imposed expectations McIlroy puts upon himself, and rediscovering that sense of youth.

For a golfer of McIlroy’s status and ability, it seems unlikely to suggest that there won’t be more major titles down the line. The question lies in where and when those titles will be won, as the pressure to deliver continues to mount on the Northern Irishman.

 


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