Rory McIlroy: Top 5 Reasons He'll Win British Open 2012
Some might argue his high-profile relationship with women's tennis star Caroline Wozniaki is hampering his on-course performance.
What McIlroy attributes his difficulties to is a lack of competitive rounds, according to the UK's The Telegraph.
Since making that statement after a second straight missed cut at the BMW PGA Championship, Rory has ramped up his schedule, playing events in four of the past six weeks.
Upping the intensity will serve the 23-year-old well heading into the year's third major.
Here are the top five reasons why McIlroy will be the newest Open champion.
Irish Open Finish
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After a blistering start to 2012, including a victory at the PGA Tour's Honda Classic, Rory has had a rough go at it. That is, until very recently.
McIlroy closed the Irish Open two weeks ago with a 67 to finish in a tie for 10th, his best result in the past month.
According to an interview with the Daily Mail, he put a new driver in the bag that goes 15 yards further and puts less spin on the ball.
This could be a huge breakthrough in McIlroy's game, especially due to the tight links style of Royal Lytham that puts a premium on finding the fairway.
Rory ranks 115th in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour this season, but said his putting was the main problem at Royal Portrush.
If he can drive it straight and get his swagger back on the greens, McIlroy's game should be in great shape for this week.
Redemption for 2011
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Rory was still riding the wave from blowing the field away at the 2011 U.S. Open when he entered last year's championship at Royal St. George's.
As was quoted in a story by the Guardian's Kevin Mitchell, Rory caused a lot of controversy with his comments about the setup and the British Open in general:
"I'd rather play when it's 80 degrees and sunny and not much wind. I'm not a fan of tournaments when the outcome is predicted so much by the weather."
Of course, he was referring to the fact that he'd rather play in America, where he was about to transition to more of a full-time PGA Tour player. That certainly didn't increase his popularity overseas.
This year, Rory has taken on a different, more mature tune, according to the Sunday Express.
He has been practicing at Royal County Down to get in links mode, and has fielded questions about adjusting his game for the blustery conditions that are to be expected at the British Open.
A hardened demeanor and more willing attitude will immensely improve his chances at winning this year. He should certainly improve upon a T25 showing at last year's event.
Capitalizing on Opportunities
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Even though he's only made six cuts in nine PGA Tour events this year, Rory has been among the most explosive players in the game.
He averages more than four birdies per round and is among the leaders in eagles made on Tour. Despite some outlier rounds that resulted in MCs, Rory amazingly still ranks fifth in scoring average.
The biggest reason for his steady scoring average despite frequently uneven play is his drastically improved putting.
Part of the reason Rory has scored so well and birdied so often is because he's converting the opportunities he gets.
His birdie or better conversion percentage is above 34 percent, which is tops on the PGA Tour.
Rory also holes putts from 15 to 25 feet at the highest rate, which is the range that many birdie opportunities come from on mid-range shots.
If he can continue to be opportunistic when birdie chances present themselves, Rory should lead the field this week in that category. It will just be a matter of avoiding the bigger numbers.
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This is a term usually reserved for the man who works hard all week and tries to be a hero by playing scratch golf on the weekend. Some of us can pull it off, but most of us can't.
In this context, Rory has shown an ability to be in the hunt nearly every time he's teed it up on the weekend this year.
Unfortunately, that's been the problem—he has missed the cut lately, rendering him unable to compete on Saturday and Sunday.
Moving day could prove to be pivotal for Rory, since he ranks fifth on the PGA Tour in third round scoring average. That will be the defining round as to whether he can contend at Royal Lytham.
Considering the disappointing showings at the year's first two majors, Rory should have his game face on and translate his solid post-cut play to a major for the first time in 2012.
Experience Under Major Pressure
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What many people forget is that Rory could have easily won four or five majors at this point in his career.
Rory tied for third at both the 2009 and 2010 PGA Championships, but had a huge chance to win the latter.
He missed crucial putts throughout the day, and failed to drain a putt on the 72nd hole to get into the playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson.
Then, of course, the collapse at Augusta in 2011 after holding a four-shot lead through 54 holes.
The 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews was also a great opportunity for Rory if not for a second-round 80, which cost him a shot at contending.
Still, he finished tied for third, and no one bested Rory's 67-68 showing on the weekend.
Eventual champion Louis Oosthuizen lucked out by playing in the morning wave in Round 2.
That doesn't take away anything from the South African's victory; he played extremely well. However, it was partially to blame for a relatively unknown golfer smashing the rest of the field.
This is pure speculation, but it may have been part of Rory's disenchantment with the Open's outcome being determined so much by the weather.
Even though Rory is only 23, he has more experience in the heat of major battles than much of his current competition near the top of the world rankings.
Drawing on that—as well as disappointing results at the past four majors—should afford Rory the opportunity to capture a second major title.