Rory McIlroy. Alamy Stock Photo

McIlroy to avoid LIV talk in bid to rediscover top form

McIlroy feels he is near the form he needs to win his first major title since 2014.

RORY McILROY SAYS he is near the form he needs to win his first major title since 2014 after a mental health break to cope with a deflating Masters result.

The four-time major winner also said Tuesday at the PGA Championship that avoiding talk about the LIV Golf League will be part of how he moves forward after previously being one of most vocal PGA Tour supporters.

McIlroy missed the cut last month at the Masters as he tried again to complete a career Grand Slam. The 34-year-old from Northern Ireland’s only event since was at Quail Hollow, where he shared 47th two weeks ago.

“It wasn’t really the performance of Augusta that’s hard to get over,” McIlroy said. “It’s just more the mental aspect and the deflation of it and trying to get your mind in the right place to start going forward again.

“I think I’m close. I think I’ve made some good strides even from Quail Hollow a couple weeks ago. I’m seeing some better things, better start lines, certainly just some better golf shots — a little more sure of where I’m going to start the ball and sort of a more consistent shot pattern.

If I can execute the way I feel like I can, then I still believe that I’m one of the best players in the world and I can produce good golf to have a chance of winning this week.”

McIlroy skipped a PGA Tour “designated event” the week after the Masters even though it meant losing $3 million in bonus money as part of his mental break, but he doesn’t know if the benefits will show this week.

“I needed it at the time,” McIlroy said. “Whether it works this week or not remains to be seen.”

Something else McIlroy says he needs is a break from talking about the Saudi-backed LIV series after helping the PGA restructure events to cope with the breakaway league that lured away several top stars with record $25 million purses.

Asked if it was a conscious choice to sidestep talk of LIV, McIlroy replied, “Yeah.”

Another mental change for McIlroy is lowering what he demands of himself.

“Less expectations. Just sort of trying to sort of be in a good spot with taking what comes and not thinking about things too much, not getting ahead of myself,” McIlroy said. “Just trying to go out there, play a good first hole… a good second hole and just go from there.”

McIlroy said he still looks back at past major wins, including his most recent at the 2014 PGA, but finds it less productive to try and replicate his ruthlessness of younger days.

“I find being that way pretty exhausting in life in general, to be that ruthless,” McIlroy said. “It’s not as if I can’t get into that mode, but I don’t feel like I need to be that way to be successful on the golf course.”

When it comes to his swing, McIlroy hopes minor tweaks will produce major dividends.

“There’s nothing drastic that I need to change,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been working a little bit on my swing the last couple of weeks trying to get that back in order. If I can execute the way I feel I know that I can, then I should be OK.”

McIlroy struggled with a two-way miss at Quail Hollow.

“Trying to sort of tighten the start lines up a little bit, keep a little bit more strength in the club face, feel a little bit more squareness throughout the swing,” McIlroy said.

“It’s timing and fractions of seconds between the ball going 20 yards right or it going 20 yards left. Getting a little more consistency with face angle on the way down, that has been better.

“I would expect this week to not have to deal with that so much.”

– © AFP 2023 

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