With big mis-hits to blame, Rory McIlroy’s ‘very blah’ Players is over early
Rory McIlroy began his Players Championship by defending, among other components of the PGA Tour’s new designated events model, the decision to not employ a cut for eight of the circuit’s biggest tournaments.
McIlroy ended his week at TPC Sawgrass prematurely, having missed his sixth career cut at the Tour’s flagship event.
After digging himself an early hole with an opening double bogey and first round 76 on Thursday, McIlroy didn’t fare much better in a second round that spanned two days. McIlroy added his second double of the tournament, at the par-4 sixth, where he putted his ball off the green, and despite three birdies in his next 10 holes, he capped a disappointing 36 holes with a closing bogey at No. 18, solidifying a 1-over 73 and early exit at 5 over, three shots back of the cut line.
“Just very blah,” McIlroy said, summing up his week. “Yeah, I guess the course, you just have to be really on to play well here. If you’re a little off, it definitely magnifies where you are off. It’s a bit of an enigma. Some years I come here, and like it feels easier than others. It’s just a tricky golf course, and you don’t hit fairways and you’ve got your work cut out for you.”
McIlroy only found 13 of a possible 28 fairways this week. On Thursday, he lamented his new TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus driver while explaining that he only made the switch because his old driver had become too hot and probably wouldn’t pass a CT test.
He tied a bow on his struggles off the tee by pushing his final drive on No. 18 miles right. His next shot caught a tree limb and ricocheted nearly into the water, setting up a dicey wedge shot with McIlroy standing on the bulkhead.
“I wish I didn’t have to bet on a new driver,” McIlroy said. “I wish I could just use the old one, but yeah, it is what it is. … You don’t want a big mis-hit in the bag. You look at the drive I hit on 18 there, and that’s way too wide for a miss.”
The missed cut marked McIlroy’s first worldwide since last summer’s FedExCup playoff opener, the FedEx St. Jude Championship. McIlroy owns a win (2018) and three other top-8 finishes at TPC Sawgrass, but now he also has missed six cuts in 13 career Players starts, including in three of his past five trips.
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Understandably, McIlroy was asked if his recent role as player director of the PGA Tour’s Policy Board, one that has demanded a significant amount of his time (last week at Bay Hill, McIlroy reportedly spent seven hours in a meeting), was wearing on him.
“It is fair,” McIlroy said, agreeing. “I’d love to get back to being a golfer, yeah. Look, it’s been a busy couple of weeks, and honestly, it’s been a busy sort of six or eight months. But as I said at the start of the week, everything has sort of been announced now, and the wheels have been put in motion, so it should obviously quieten down from here.”