Rory McIlroy is part of a sizable contingent teeing it up in his first tournament since the U.S. Open. He played a lot around the birth of his first child, Poppy, so some time away was good for him. McIlroy did play in the Payne’s Valley Cup the Tuesday after the U.S. Open where he and Justin Rose lost close to Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas.
What form will see from McIlroy as he gears up for the year’s final push? He was a winner late in 2019 and a top-five machine prior to the pandemic early in 2020.
McIlroy made tons of cuts since June but didn’t record a top-10 until the 30-man Tour Championship. He followed it up with solo eighth at Winged Foot. Not bad, it’s just that a Sunday 75 left everyone wanting more.
The Northern Irishman was seen in his off time reaching 190 mile-per-hour club head speed with his driver on the Trackman. That’s a scary sight considering he was already fourth on Tour last season in driving distance (314) and sixth in strokes gained off the tee (.702).
Take that, Bryson.
McIlroy was also stellar in SG approach (.504). It would have been another banner season if not for the putter. He was 122nd in SG putting (.-.071) and had trouble making them down the stretch.
The 31-year-old’s always been a bit streaky on the greens. That said, he usually levels out to be closer to a top 50 putter than outside the top 100.
Marginal gains could be all it takes for him to get back to No. 1 and win his first major since 2014. Dare I remind you he’s a green jacket away from the career grand slam?
I think McIlroy’s competitive juices are going to ramp back up soon enough. A low-pressure event like the CJ Cup could be just what the doctor ordered to gain him some confidence.