He has only two weeks to find a driver to help him win the British Open at Muirfield. Otherwise he’s going to have to put all his eggs in the PGA Championship basket.
A successful defense of his PGA Championship win at Kiawah Island last year is looking like the only salvation for the Northern Irishman right now. Never has he looked so lost as he is at this moment in his young career.
“Lost” is the word McIlroy used after a dismal performance in the Irish Open, his last event before he travels to Muirfield.
“I feel a bit lost right now,” he said after opening at 2-over-par 74. He still looked lost after the second round, missing the cut by two shots on a course that should have suited him right down to the ground.
Unfortunately, no course seems to suit McIlroy right now, especially courses like Irish Open venue Carton House that require driving accuracy. He is ranked 151st in that category on the European Tour and 91st on the PGA Tour. He’s averaging about 60 percent in fairways hit on the PGA Tour, and only 56 percent in Europe. He was only 32 percent at Carton House, ranking tied for 96th of the 154 players who teed it up.
No wonder he left the Irish Open looking to put in some work with Nike’s equipment team to try to find a driver that suits him.
“I am spending more time with Nike’s technical staff as this was a new driver I had in the bag this week, but it still wasn’t 100 percent what I want,” McIlroy said.
“So I am testing with them again next week. I am still confident in my ability to hit the golf ball and hit good shots, but then confidence comes from hitting good shots and seeing the ball go in the hole, and shooting good rounds and posting good results.”
McIlroy’s success has been built around his ability with the driver. He won the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship by eight strokes. He became world No. 1. Then he ended the season by winning the money titles on both the European and PGA tours.
However, this season he switched from Nike to Titleist in a big-money deal, and he hasn’t found a driver he feels confident with.
McIlroy will need to find a driver soon if he is to try to win the Open at Muirfield. There will be narrow fairways and deep rough at arguably the best course in the British Isles. He’ll need to find the short grass if he’s to contend.