This time last year I wrote an article praising Rory McIlroy's mental attitude and suggesting that he had turned a corner after winning the 2011 US Open at Congressional, following a fateful final round at Augusta National last year. Some thought that McIlroy would never recover from such a big loss at the Masters Tournament, but then he went on to win the next Major championship by eight shots which put an end to the questioning.
Twelve months later, concerns have begun to circulate once more as McIlroy missed his forth cut in the space of five events, and failed to qualify for the weekend at the US Open in San Francisco. Many believed that it was a mistake for him to play at the FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis a week before the defence of his US Open title, the legendary Jack Nicklaus included, but the young starlet seemed determined that competitive rounds were needed in order to improve his chances of winning. The rhetoric didn't quite prove promising though, and an opening bogey at the first hole at the Olympic Club set the tone for the next 48 hours.
Here come the worries. Has he peaked too soon? Will he recover? Let's put this into perspective. At present, he is still number two in the world and he finished second last week at the FedEx Classic, proving that his game has hardly deserted him. Granted, an analysis of recent events may be needed, but panic alarms needn't be ringing just yet. At only 23-years-old, McIlroy has many years left to win Major championships and prove himself as a serious contender.
Sometimes it can be overlooked just how much pressure he is under in his pursuit of the number one position, especially when unanswerable questions are thrown at him following a poor finish. Mentally, Rory needs to regroup and consider how he can improve before the The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in July, where he will once again be put under the spotlight. Maybe he should play more competitive rounds in the next few weeks, or maybe he should head back to the driving range and go back to basics. Only he knows which is best for his game.
One thing is for certain though, Rory McIlroy is already a Major Champion, an immensely talented golfer and he possesses the ability to threaten any player that comes his way. No one gets to number one in the world without a bit of fight and perseverance...watch this space.
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