For Rory McIlroy, 2013 will be a year to forget. Coming off a massive win at the 2012 PGA Championship, it looked like this would be another solid season for the 24-year-old, but the year has continued to slip away and his opening round at the British Open didn't help.
An 8-over 79 on Thursday at Muirfield was the second time this season that Rory has carded that number in a major championship round, matching his third round 79 at Augusta National in April.
It also meant his streak of not breaking 70 continues, dating back to May 31, when Rory shot a 69 during the second round of the Memorial. That week McIlroy finished T-57 after missing the cut the week before at the BMW PGA Championship. He went on to finish T-41 at the U.S. Open and then missed the cut at the Irish Open, his last event before the Open.
Rory hit just five fairways on Thursday at Muirfield, carding two double-bogeys on his back nine including the 15th, where he putted a ball off the green into a bunker, a head-scratching mistake from the world No. 2.
Blame the club switch, blame his relationship, blame anything you want, but these struggles have everything to do with the way that Rory McIlroy is approaching the game of golf and nothing to do with what brand is affixed to his irons or who is the first person he texts when his round ends.
His golf game is not there, sure, but anyone who has picked up a golf club knows that this game is mental and moping around with your head towards the turf is going to do nothing good for your game or your confidence.
Rory is an extreme talent, nobody will argue that, but this slump has shown a lot about the kid's character. He gets down on himself with the game goes south, and can't seem to right the ship when the driver starts going sideways and the putts keeping rolling lips.
McIlroy is a good kid, and anybody who has spent some time around him would agree with that, but if he wants to be a legend he will need to change his mentality when his A game fails to make the trip. That is something we saw a lot when Tiger Woods was really in his prime, and something that McIlroy could learn from his Nike buddy.
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