Golf: Shock loss at Honda gives McIlroy wake-up call – Sport – NZ Herald News

24 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Golf: Shock loss at Honda gives McIlroy wake-up call – Sport – NZ Herald News

Golf: Shock loss at Honda gives McIlroy wake-up call

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Rory McIlroy’s world ranking rose to sixth after the Honda Classic. Photo / AP

Rory McIlroy says it’s going to be hard to get over his dramatic loss in the Honda Classic on Sunday but is eager to get into a similar position in Doral and to do a better job.

The Ulsterman is playing in the highly exclusive, and almost certainly lucrative, pro-member event at the Seminole Golf Club, a course that once turned down Jack Nicklaus for membership.

McIlroy, who rose from eighth in the world to sixth after the Honda Classic, will then travel to Miami for this week’s WGC Cadillac Championship, desperate to cap his fine start to the season with a victory.

Nobody can say that McIlroy is not in a better place than 12 months ago, when he had missed the cut at Abu Dhabi, lost in the first round of the WGC Matchplay and walked off midway through his second round at the Honda. This year he has two runner-up finishes and another top 10 to his name.

McIlroy is determined to see the positives following an event in which he led for the first three rounds, before the 74 which placed him into a four-hole play-off, which was won by another 24-year-old, the American Russell Henley. He is obviously concerned he has lost the killer touch which earned him five wins in 2012, but is refusing to panic with the Masters six weeks away.

It is very disappointing, but it was a decent week, he said.

I got myself into contention again. It was my third strokeplay event of the year and the third time I’ve been in contention. I haven’t been able to walk through that door but I feel like the more times I knock on that door, I’ll eventually step through it.

The worry for McIlroy must be the calibre of leaderboard on Sunday. He held a two-shot advantage over Henley going into the final round and would not have believed that a 72 for his playing partner would lead to victory. Ryan Palmer and Scotland’s Russell Knox were the others in the play-off; the former has not won for four years and the latter is still trying to establish himself on the PGA Tour.

In short, McIlroy is in a different league, but found himself overtaken. Perhaps it is time for another chat with Nicklaus.

Three years ago, the pair had dinner when the 18-time major champion told the young maestro that lesser rivals would always be more inclined to beat themselves than him.

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Nicklaus repeated the sentiment as McIlroy laboured on a back nine which was essentially wrecked by a double bogey on the 16th and a bogey on the 17th.

One thing that Rory’s got to think about here is, who’s on the leaderboard, Nicklaus said. When I was playing, we used to have Johnny Miller on the leader board, or we had Tom Weiskopf, or Tom Watson, or Arnold, or Gary, or Trevino, who you know were going to finish.

These guys are kind of unproven. They’re all good players, but Rory is a proven player and should have the advantage coming down the stretch.

McIlroy did not, but he now recalls what it takes to get over that line.

I just need to be mentally strong, he said. That was a perfect opportunity to win. No one was really coming at me. I started at 12 under and eight under got in the play-off.

So I’m just thinking, play those last few holes just solid. It’s tough to take at the minute but I’ll sleep it off. It’s a new week and I’ll try to get myself back into contention next week at Doral.

By James Corrigan

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