Rory McIlroy says missing 'spark' is not a new coach or caddie

Rory McIlroy insists the “spark” he is looking for in his bid to return to winning ways isn’t about him being on the verge of looking for a new coach or caddie.

Rory McIlroy during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday. Picture: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

The four-time major winner was at a low ebb after seeing a promising start in last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill end in disappointment as a closing 76 left him in a tie for tenth behind Bryson DeChambeau.

His comments straight afterwards sparked speculation that McIlroy might be looking at replacing either long-time coach Michael Bannon or caddie Harry Diamond with the Masters looming on the horizon.

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However, the Northern Irisman used his interview ahead of this week’s title defence in The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass at Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida, to add some clarity about his present mindset.

“I think it was just me walking off the course not having my best day and I guess sort of venting a little bit to whoever was there at the time,” he said, having ran up a double-bogey 7 at the sixth in that closing circuit.

“Look, I did feel dejected. I felt disappointed. I think one of the biggest things is, it's funny, I'd almost feel better if my game was worse, but it's the inconsistency of I shot 66 on Thursday and thought, I've got it, I feel really good, and then I didn't quite have it. The ups and downs are just a little too much.

“I think that's where I'm sort of struggling to come to terms with it and sort of trying to figure out what I need to do because the good stuff is there. It always will be. I'll always be able to figure it out and find a way.

“But it's when it goes slightly off, how do you manage that. I feel like over the last few years, I've been really good at when my game hasn't been fully there still being able to shoot 69, 70, still being able to get it under par.

“Whereas I feel like the last few weeks when it hasn't felt quite right, I'm sort of treading water and I'm just trying to shoot even par, and that was sort of what it felt like last week.“The good golf is always there and the good shots will always be in there. It's just when you're not feeling quite 100 percent, that's when you need to just be able to manage it a little better, and I just haven't managed it well over the last few weeks.”

McIlroy, who recorded his last win in November 2019, added: “I mean, I certainly didn't mean like a change of personnel per se. I think more a change in philosophy or maybe what I'm trying to work on, maybe going in a slightly different direction.

“Swing-wise, I think there's some things that I'm working on that haven't quite bedded in or I'm struggling to grasp what I'm trying to do, so that's sort of what I meant, talking about going in a different direction.

“Just sort of maybe trying something different or thinking about another way to do it, I guess. More so I was coming from that point of view.”

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