How Rory McIlroy Can Turn Around Poor Year at US Open

Matt WardenContributor IIIJune 12, 2013

Rory McIlroy hasn't found a way to get his first PGA Tour victory of 2013 to turn his poor season around.
Rory McIlroy hasn't found a way to get his first PGA Tour victory of 2013 to turn his poor season around.Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Despite sitting at No. 2 in the World Golf rankings, Rory McIlroy continues to be sub-par heading into the U.S. Open on June 13.

McIlroy has finished in the Top 10 in four of the nine events he has participated in this season, and he will need to focus on a few important things to win his first event of the year at the Open.

Beat the Moment

The first two rounds of the 2013 U.S. Open will feature the group of Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott. Woods is coming off of a win in the Memorial Tournament, the same tournament that saw Scott finish 13th and McIlroy 57th.

McIlroy has had a tough time getting his head back into the game after infamously walking off of the course at The Honda Classic in March. He cited mental fatigue for the withdrawal, but it was confirmed in an article from that the pressure was too much for him:

"I think it was a buildup of everything," McIlroy said. "I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to perform and I’ve been working so hard and not really getting much out of it. You know, that’s just been the frustrating thing, and that’s what happened…I just sort of let it all get to me."

The only way McIlroy will win an event this season is if he beats the hype of the moment. In the seven times McIlroy has been paired with Woods in his PGA career, he has finished with a better score six of those times.

He can play with the best, and he needs to not only realize that, but believe it.

Start Strong

Although McIlroy has finished over par in only two of his nine events this season—despite one withdrawal—he’s played his best with good first round scores.

In his four top-10 finishes this season, he has shot an average of 69.5 in the first round, with an average final score of about eight-under in those finishes. He’s posted an average score of 73.25 in the first round of the rest of his events this season.

When McIlroy has started strong this season, he’s finished even stronger, posting an average score of 68.5 in the fourth round of those top-10 events. How he starts usually dictates how he finishes.

Rule the Par 3

Rory McIlroy showed in the Valero Texas Open that when he controls the short holes, he finds much more success as a whole.

McIlroy averaged 2.75 shots to get the ball in the hole on par-three holes in the Valero Texas Open. He finished the event in second place, shooting 12-under.

When McIlroy controls the short course, he finds a lot of success.

Outside of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy has been perhaps the most criticized golfer on the PGA Tour due to a lack of mental toughness in big situations.

If he can start strong and control the moment like he controls the short holes, McIlroy could turn his season around at the Open.