If the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale was a referendum on Rory McIlroy’s preparedness for the rest of the 2017 season, then consider me back on board.
No, McIlroy didn’t bring home the coveted Claret Jug. After just nine holes of the tournament, though, the Ulsterman was an afterthought, five-over par and essentially out before the game had even begun.
Still, McIlroy battled back – with some choice words of encouragement from his caddie – to not only make the cut, but finish inside the top five. That’s not a broken player, especially on a major championship stage.
Rory has missed the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in each of the last two years, so in a way, he’s a champion who never got the chance to defend. He shot a final round 66 at Firestone that season, to surpass third-round leader Sergio Garcia by two.
In six career trips to Firestone, McIlroy has four top-tens, and just one finish outside the top-30. Length is always going to be a defining factor at Firestone, and McIlroy has proven that he’s more than capable of taming the challenging par-70.
The energy is always going to be good for McIlroy at Firestone – he even named it one of his favorite courses, right up there with the likes of Augusta National and St. Andrews. High praise, indeed from one of the game’s best.