Rory McIlroy is one of the most gifted players on the PGA Tour, and he managed to overcome an awful Day 2 by bouncing back and finishing tied for 14th at seven under par at the 2014 Scottish Open.
McIlroy shot a 67 on Sunday and added six birdies during the round. If it wasn’t for the 78 that he shot on Friday, the Irish star would have been in contention for the victory considering how well he played over the course of the weekend.
|Position||Player||To Par||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4|
Here's a hole-by-hole look at McIlroy's fourth-round performance:
McIlroy started the weekend by shooting a record-breaking 64 on the first day, but he followed it up with his horrible play on Day 2. Despite the collapse, he made the cut and bounced back on Day 3 with a score of 68.
While finishing tied for 14th is less than ideal, the fact that he overcame such a terrible second round is a true testament to his ability to bounce back from adversity. Now it’s time for him to figure out how to eliminate the bad rounds he racks up.
McIlroy finishes well in Aberdeen: Rory McIlroy put in a good performance on the final day of the Scottish Open. http://t.co/9vRWjNvuZL— UTV Sport (@UTVSport) July 13, 2014
It’s hard to understand why he struggles so much at random times.
The men’s British Open begins Thursday, and McIlroy will need to carry the momentum he created on Saturday and Sunday at the Scottish Open into the sport’s third major tournament of the year.
McIlroy missed the cut for the event in 2013 and hasn’t finished higher than 25th since taking home a third-place finish in 2010.
|Position||Player||To Par||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3|
|T1||Ricardo Gonzalez||-8||-6 (65)||E (71)||-2 (4)|
|T1||Marc Warren||-8||-4 (67)||-2 (69)||-2 (4)|
|3||Craig Lee||-6||+1 (72)||-2 (69)||-5 (14)|
|T4||David Howell||-5||-3 (68)||-1 (70)||-1 (5)|
|T4||Kristoffer Broberg||-5||-6 (65)||E (71)||+1 (5)|
|T4||Justin Rose||-5||-2 (69)||-3 (68)||E (4)|
|T4||Pablo Larrazabal||-5||-2 (69)||+2 (73)||-5 (66)|
|T4||Mikko Ilonen||-5||E (71)||-3 (68)||-2 (6)|
|T4||Danny Willett||-5||-1 (70)||E (71)||-4 (13)|
|T18||Rory McIlroy||-3||-7 (64)||+7 (78)||-3 (68)|
After Friday's disastrous second round, Rory McIlroy's hopes for winning the 2014 Scottish Open went out the window. Despite those second-round problems, the 25-year-old got back on track with a strong third round.
McIlroy teed off early on Saturday and finished before most of the leaders got on the course, but he was able to make a move up the board. He finished Friday in a tie for 36th, but following a three-under 68, the Irish star was tied for 16th when he walked off the 18th green.
Here's a deeper look at McIlroy's third-round performance, hole by hole:
Saturday has typically been a good day for McIlroy in 2014. He shot in the 60s during the third round of three straight PGA Tour events in May and revived that hot streak at the Scottish Open.
In fact, Justin Ray of the Golf Channel noted just how much better McIlroy has been this season in every round that isn't the second and provided an interesting note about third rounds in particular:
Rory McIlroy in official worldwide starts this season: +9 in 2nd Round. 93-under in rounds 1, 3 and 4. 102-shot difference to par.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) July 12, 2014
Rory McIlroy: 3 times now he's opened tournament 64/better then 78/worse. All subsequent 3 third rounds? Shot -3.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) July 12, 2014
There wasn't anything particularly special about McIlroy's performance on Saturday, other than how efficient he was with all his shots.
The two-time Grand Slam champion started Saturday with a bogey on the first hole but never let that snowball on him the way it did on Friday. He had three birdies on the front nine to make the turn at two under par, then went for par on eight of nine holes with a birdie on 16 to finish at three under.
Consistency has not been McIlroy's friend this year, as those stats from Rose suggest, but when he's on, there aren't a lot of players better. Trying to hold momentum from one hole to the next, let alone round to round, has been problematic in 2014.
Proving that point was McIlroy's performance on No. 13 the last two days. He made news on Thursday for hitting the green off the tee on the 436-yard hole and getting a birdie but took a bogey on Friday.
Today, as noted by ESPN.com's Rob King, McIlroy's drive on the 13th hole was significantly shorter than what he hit on Thursday:
Rory McIlroy's drive on the 436-yard 13th hole today is 163 yards shorter than yesterday's tee shot ... which reached the green. #wind— Rob King (@ESPN_RobKing) July 11, 2014
Despite not having the distance, McIlroy wound up saving par and keeping himself afloat on the back nine.
There's still a lot of golf left to be played, both on Saturday and Sunday, and we are only 48 hours removed from McIlroy setting a course record with a 64. He has a steep hill to climb in order to win the event.
However, if McIlroy is able to climb out of the huge hole he's dug for himself and finish in the top 10, it would be a huge momentum boost heading into next week's British Open, which is an event he's struggled in the last three years, including missing the cut last year.
Rory McIlroy entered Friday's second round at the Scottish Open with the lead after firing a sparkling seven-under 64. Unfortunately for the Northern Irish star, his bizarre Day 2 jinx struck again on the Royal Aberdeen Links.
McIlroy dropped into a 36th-place tie by the end of his round after shooting a seven-over 78. Here is a look at the leaderboard at the conclusion of McIlroy's day, courtesy of EuropeanTour.com, as he sits at even par for the tourney:
|Position||Player||To Par||Round 1||Round 2|
|1||Ricardo Gonzalez||-8||65||Thru 10|
|T5||Richard Bland||-4||67||Thru 11|
|T7||Paul Casey||-3||69||Thru 17|
Rory's ugly second-round scorecard broke down like this:
McIlroy has a penchant for turning in poor second rounds after opening tournaments in impressive fashion. That bug bit McIlroy again Friday even though he was determined to put it behind him, according to Ewan Murray of The Guardian.
I think it is a mental thing more than anything else. Trying to keep yourself in the lead or trying to keep yourself up there. I think every time that I've played well or had success in a tournament, my mind hasn't been too much on the leaderboard or too much on my position in the tournament. ... I feel like sometimes this year when I've gotten myself into the lead or I shot 63 in the first round (at the Dubai Desert Classic and Memorial Tournament), I focused too much on where I was on the leaderboard or where I was in the tournament instead of just going out and trying to play another solid round of golf.
Although McIlroy seemed to be entering the second round of the Scottish Open in the right frame of mind, that simply didn't translate into a good showing.
After racking up eight birdies Thursday, it was abundantly clear from the get-go that McIlroy wasn't in that same form for the second round. As pointed out by Shane Bacon of Yahoo! Sports, Fridays are McIlroy's kryptonite for whatever reason:
You don’t meet a lot of people that hate Fridays. Rory McIlroy might be one of them.— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) July 11, 2014
Eugene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union added some statistical analysis to the equation as well:
stunning stat about Rory McIlroy -- he's 51-under par in first round this year, 2-over-par in 2nd round. Trend continues at Scottish Open.— Eugene Frenette (@GeneFrenette) July 11, 2014
McIlroy bogeyed the par-four first hole Friday, and it was all downhill from there. He proceeded to add bogeys on the fifth and eighth holes as well but managed to birdie the sixth. As mediocre as he was on the opening nine, things got far worse on the back half.
Following a bogey on the 10th hole, things really got ugly on the par-five 12th. McIlroy carded a seven, which caused him to drop even further down the leaderboard, per NBC Golf Central:
Even McIlroy's recent success and love for links courses wasn't enough to end his unenviable run of Friday failures, according to Steve Douglas of the Associated Press:
Second-round syndrome hitting McIlroy again. After his opening 64, he's 5 over after 12 and may not be liking links so much after all— Steve Douglas (@sdouglas80) July 11, 2014
The 12th hole was probably McIlroy's worst of the day, but the 13th was a microcosm of his transformation from Thursday to Friday. After driving the green on the par-four 13th in the first round, McIlroy's drive left plenty to be desired in the second round, per Jason Sobel of GolfChannel.com:
Rory McIlroy hit a 436-yard drive on the 13th hole yesterday. Hit one 276 today. Only 160 yards shorter.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 11, 2014
The ensuing bogey furthered McIlroy's precipitous fall and left Murray searching for answers regarding McIlroy's second-round curse:
Even by McIlroy's recent standards, this is remarkable stuff... +6 for the day.— Ewan Murray (@mrewanmurray) July 11, 2014
McIlroy followed that up with another bogey on the 14th hole, which dropped him to even for the tournament. Even with McIlroy's second-round issues, few could have expected his opening round of seven under par to be neutralized in one day.
It seemed like a near certainty after the first round that McIlroy would vie for this title, but that seems like a near impossibility now. McIlroy is so volatile that you never know what he'll do from one round to the next, but he will need two excellent rounds in addition to the leaders dropping back.
The fact that McIlroy posted such a poor score is particularly disturbing due to the fact that there were low scores to be had on the course Friday. Most of the players above the projected cut line shot under par, but McIlroy wasn't even close.
Even if McIlroy finishes the tournament strong and progresses up the leaderboard a bit, this round will haunt him. With the British Open quickly approaching, though, McIlroy has to do everything possible to move past it.
Based on how awful he has been on Fridays this year, one has to wonder if the same problems will creep up during the upcoming major.
Rory McIlroy's produced an impressive display of ball-striking during Round 1 of the Scottish Open on Thursday, setting a Royal Aberdeen course record of 64 to set a pace of seven-under atop the leaderboard.
By the time he'd completed the course, the Northern Irishman couldn't help but smile following his flying start, despite the likes of Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald and Darren Clarke bearing down.
|Position||Player||To Par||Round 1|
For a breakdown of the full leaderboard, visit the official European Tour website.
It didn't take long for McIlroy to hint that Thursday might yield a positive round, and after saving the first hole with a short-range putt, he claimed the first of his eight birdies at the second.
That was swiftly equalled by a bogey on the 446-yard par-four, one of Royal Aberdeen's more difficult challenges and one that two players managed to double-bogey in the first round.
But that proved to be the last of the negative tones as McIlroy sought about taking advantage of the shorter-yardage holes, birdying at the fifth, eighth and ninth, pars four, three and four respectively.
With the Open Championship around the corner, Kevin Garside of The Independent took note of the tournament favourite's fine form during the front nine:
The links course wasn't exactly making things easy for those out on the Scottish coastline. Nevertheless, McIlroy resumed action on the 10th in the same manner with which he came into it, swinging right off the pin, but swiftly lunging in to birdie from just a few feet out.
That vein of form continued with another birdie at the 11th, which Tom English of BBC Scotland Sport couldn't help but admire:
Four birdies in a row for Rory McIlroy. 5-under. Outrageously good golf in very testing conditions— Tom English (@TomEnglishSport) July 10, 2014
One of McIlroy's Round 1 highlights was yet to come, however, and the 25-year-old showcased tremendous power in hitting the 13th green from the tee as noted by ByTheMinGolf:
Mcilroy has just hit a 436 yard drive on the 13th, onto the green in one on the Par 4. Clearly going to Ibiza has improved his game. Right?— ByTheMin Golf (@ByTheMinGolf) July 10, 2014
A 40-foot eagle attempt was pushed just too far, but settling for a birdie on the par-four was more than acceptable, the same feat replicated on the 14th not long after.
At the time of the latter, only two other players had managed to birdie the 14th, while nine had bogeyed—the fourth-highest such tally of any hole on the day thus far—showing just what elite class McIlroy was enjoying.
Nearing the end of his opening day, McIlroy was hailed onto the 17th by the Evening Express' Sean Wallace:
With the wind beginning to pick up, it was a more rudimentary finish for McIlroy, who parred his last four in succession, enough to secure the clubhouse lead as his own and seal a fine start to proceedings with a round of seven-under.
Speaking to the Irish Times prior to his Scottish Open beginning, the former world No. 1 didn't seem too concerned with the weather challenge laying ahead, and it certainly showed on Thursday:
You’ve got to relish the challenge. I’m trying to adopt more of that mindset, especially for these couple of weeks a year. It’s not like I haven’t played well on links courses before and in links conditions.
Back when I was 15, 16, 17, playing links golf all the time, it wasn’t anything to put your wet gear on and play whereas now we’re so spoiled playing in great conditions. Any time there’s a bit of rain in America it’s a thunderstorm so you go in anyway.
So, in a time where McIlroy is supposed to be striving for new heights in the sport, it may actually be the expectant hero's past that guides him to triumph at Royal Aberdeen.
Thus far, it's a calming tactic to employ, but much more work is to be done as he prepares to head into the weekend.