McIlroy Gives Four Day View of Future Greatness

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Confidence Key To Golf Consistency

By John Ventola

Rory McIlroy’s two shot victory in the British Open once again opened up conversations that he is the next “Great One”. McIlroy, who turned 25 in early May, is in his seventh professional season and has shown flashes of greatness since he was a teen-ager in his native Northern Ireland. The British Open championship is his third majors win, previously capturing the 2011 U.S. Open when he shot a record sixteen under par to win by eight strokes, and the 2012 PGA crown as he again won by eight strokes, a record-setting feat in that tournament. The talent is evident, the overall game is in place. He can be aggressive, and he can be deliberate. He showed a glimpse of what has been expected of him.

Consistency is the only thing lacking—in the sport that is probably the hardest to maintain all things necessary for victory consistently. Entering Sunday’s final round with

Golf

McIlroy Wins Third Major

a six stroke lead, McIlroy reined in his aggressive approach, managed the course and avoided any drastic lapses. His one under par 71 gave him a minus 17 for the tournament and held off a final day push by the United States’ Rickie Fowler and Spain’s Sergio Garcia. Garcia botched a bunker shot on hole 15 to slow his momentum and McIlroy finished off the two stroke victory to claim the prized claret jug. McIlroy was challenged, but his confidence in his ability and the task at hand never wavered.

After missing out on a majors win in 2013 and going through some personal turmoil (McIllroy was engaged last New Year’s Eve to Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki and ended the engagement in May), McIllroy looked sharp except for a period in the third round when he lost six shots and was tied briefly by the onrushing Fowler. He gathered his concentration, and his game, and regained his six-stroke margin over Fowler by the end of Saturday. Course management was McIlroy’s mode of attack Sunday as Fowler shot a five under par and Garcia finished six under par.

Except for that minor blip Saturday, and his Sunday strategy change, McIlroy, who started the tournament with consecutive 66s to post a minus 12 after two days of play, shot a minus 4 Saturday, and finished off the field with his steady, if non-spectacular final round. McIlroy possesses the shot-making ability necessary to make hard shots look easy and the focus to make easy shots just that. Much like Tiger Woods in his prime, he is fun to watch and admire, for his ability, and his potential. Jack Nicklaus reached three majors championships by age 23 while Woods achieved his third crown at 24. Nicklaus holds the most majors titles with 18 and Woods, who last won a majors six years ago, stands at 14. If McIlroy is going to make a run at Nicklaus’ record, he needs to now put a nice majors streak together and fulfill the potential golf professionals think he has in his game.

Too bad Sunday was not Father’s Day. Rory McIlroy won his third majors, but his father, Gerry McIlroy walked off the course in Hoylake, England a big winner also. Ten years ago when his son was playing Ryder Cup golf for Northern Ireland, the elder McIlroy and three of his friends placed a bet that his son would win the British Open before he turned 26-years-old. The bet, at approximately $700 in today’s money, and placed at 500-1 odds, will pay Mr. McIlroy and his buddies over $340,000. Guiness anyone? They say an Irishman is never drunk unless he does not have a blade of grass to cling to. I can see that scenario playing out in Northern Ireland over the next few days.

Golf is such a wonderful, frustrating game. There have been so many advancements over the years in teaching the game through club professionals, personal sessions, tutorials, swing drills, and videos, all geared to improve a player’s mechanics.

Golf Ball

Golf Can Be Frustrating

Ballstriking, weight shifts, arm placements, backswings, body torque and rotation are all emphasized as the young player tries to refine and define his or her game. Lengthening of one’s driving game, solid iron play, touch and chipping around greens, and putting gradually come into play, but the biggest thing besides the muscle memory involved in the physical part of the game is the mental aspect of the competition. How else can you rationalize a professional player shooting a great four-day total and then going out the next week and not making a tournament cut after two rounds.

McIlroy played the British Open consistently to capture the championship. Earlier this year he finished tied for eighth at The Masters and then last month he ended up tied for 23rd at the U.S. Open. Why the disparity? Could the fall off in performance be caused by personal issues, injury, a certain part of the individual’s game out of kilter, or—confidence? McIlroy is not alone in trying to figure out why golfers and the game they play lacks consistency, and consistent results.

German Matt Kaymer, who won the 2014 U.S. Open just five weeks ago by eight strokes, and set the record for the best 36 holes in the tournament’s history, finished The Masters tied for 45th only a month before tearing up the Pinehurst Country Club course. Kaymer was unable to sustain his performance and finished 70th in the British Open. Two time Masters champion Bubba Watson, who won his second green jacket at Augusta, just two months ago, failed to make the cut at the British Open. The long-driving Watson had a two day total of 148 and finished tied for 89th place.

Five-time British Open champion Tom Watson shot a final day 68 to finish the tournament at one over par. At age 64. What a wonderful sight to see Watson receive a thunderous ovation as he made his walk to the final green on his solid round, his thirty-seventh appearance at the British Open.

Some guys get better with age. Look out if that is the case with Rory McIlroy.

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