Rory McIlroy at 'start of journey' after going back to basics

Rory McIlroy may have looked as though he’s been on a ‘Road to Nowhere’ in the build up to this year’s Masters but, all of a sudden, the four-time major winner is talking about being at the start of an exciting “journey”.

Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the 15th tee during a practice round prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Tuesday. Picture: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.
Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the 15th tee during a practice round prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Tuesday. Picture: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

Helped by the addition of experienced coach Pete Cowen to his team, McIlroy appears to have a clear focus again after admitting that he’d got to the stage where his head had become cluttered by too many swing thoughts.

Only time will tell if he’s back on track in time to make this the week he claims a first Green Jacket to become just the sixth player to complete a career grand slam, but, if not, he’s feeling a lot more confident about what lies ahead again.

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“I'm trying to see the big picture here,” said the 31-year-old, who was in a bad place both technically and mentally a month ago when he crashed to a 79 in the opening round of The Players Championship then talked about how his swing had gone to pot as a result of trying to keep up with Bryson DeChambeau in the power stakes.

“I'm obviously focused on this week as this week is very important, but it's bigger than that. I'm just at the start of a journey here that I know will get me back to where I want to be.”

McIlroy, who has retained long-time coach Michael Bannon on his team at the same time as working with Cowen, addressed concerns by some that one of the most naturally-gifted players in the game is becoming bogged down in technical stuff.

“I'm actually getting away from a lot of technical thoughts. I'm actually going the other way,” he said. “If anything, I feel like I've simplified the whole process.”

Outlining the player he sees himself becoming, he went on: “Being a little bit more in control of what I do. Playing a little more conservatively; controlling the ball flight; taking the big numbers out of play. A few more three-quarter shots, not hitting everything flat-out. That's the sort of golfer that I want to be going forward.”

McIlroy, who claimed the last of his major victories in the 2014 Open, is aiming to use the good, the bad and the ugly from his previous Masters appearances to try and come up with a winning formula this week.

“Whether it's the great stuff from 2011 or the charge I put in on the Saturday in 2018, the good memories are the ones you want to hold onto,” he said. “But you have to take your lessons from the not so good stuff, as well.

“I played in the final group in 2016 with Jordan [Spieth] on the Saturday and it didn't go quite the way I wanted it to. But they are all learning lessons and you just try to go out there the next time and do a little bit better, and that's all I can do.”

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McIlroy said he’d visited Tiger Woods after his return to Florida after being released from hospital in Los Angeles following a car crash in February. “When you see the crash, you think he's going to be in a hospital bed for six months. But he was actually doing better than that,” he reported.

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