WGC Match Play 2013: Rory's Early Exit Sets Stage for Triumphant Honda Classic

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2013

Sep 29, 2012; Medinah, IL, USA; European golfer Rory McIlroy walks up the fairway during the morning session of the 39th Ryder Cup on day two at Medinah Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Rory McIlroy may not have made the cut at Accenture, but to think that the 23-year-old phenom is about to enter a cold spell is ludicrous. McIlroy was unable to keep up with Ireland's Shane Lowry, who rallied from behind to defeat the 2012 PGA Championship winner.

Though a discouraging loss, this just sets the stage for McIlroy to have an excellent Honda Classic next week. For those unaware, the man won that tournament last year by shooting an overall 268 for an excellent score of -12.

McIlroy is going to enter this tournament completely ready to compete and with the bad loss on Dove Mountain completely shaken off. He has the heart of a champion and is way too young and has too much potential to let one bad performance throw him off his game.

Cases of this are seen throughout sports history. In boxing, Muhammad Ali lost his heavyweight belts to contender Leon Spinks via split decision in February 1978. Instead of getting discouraged, Ali fought Spinks again seven months later to a unanimous decision victory to get his belts back.

Of course, golf is much different than boxing. McIlroy may be the defending champion at the Honda Classic, but to say that he is a lock to repeat is a bit far-fetched.

Keep in mind that Tiger Woods is also going to be competing, as will many other faces of the sport. All it takes is for McIlroy to have one bad day, and the pendulum could swing in another contender's favor.

This means that McIlroy needs to enter fully focused and prepared, and that does not mean overly practicing and preparing for the match. He also needs to be relaxed and not completely focused on winning. That leads to mental mistakes, which could mean another early exit.

Rather, McIlroy needs to look at his early exit this week as nothing more than a fluke. He's better than that, and knows it, so it is just a matter of not letting it bog him down so that he can enter the Honda Classic with a fresh attitude.

That simple approach alone will be enough to get McIlroy into a groove at the Honda Classic and give him a great shot at defending his title. At that point, his competitors will be forced to adjust their games to his rather than vice versa.