Rory McIlroy Needed Early 2014 Struggles to Win British Open, PGA Championship

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Rory McIlroy Needed Early 2014 Struggles to Win British Open, PGA Championship
John Locher/Associated Press

Rory McIlroy is having quite the summer. Just weeks after finally winning the British Open, a tournament he had struggled with tremendously in previous years, the Northern Irishman won one of the most exciting editions of the U.S. Open we've seen in years.

ESPN tweeted this photo as proof of the unreal summer he's having:

Two majors in a span of a few weeks, the top spot on the World Golf Ranking and more media attention than any golfer not named Tiger Woods: Life is good if your name is Rory McIlroy right now. The 25-year-old can attest to that:

Now, raise your hand if you saw all of this coming just two months ago. Unless you're related to McIlroy, put your hand back down—you're lying.

Remember when he openly admitted to reporters the "freaky Fridays" were starting to get to him after blowing yet another great opening round at Aberdeen, as reported by the Golf Channel's Ryan Lavner?

McIlroy shot 78 after a sterling first round in Scotland. At the time, he was averaging 68.15 after Day 1 and 72.23 on the second day. When asked if that trend troubled him in any way, he didn't lie:

Yes, it does. One that I’d like to stop this week. It’s more I just got it into my head, and I may be putting a bit too much pressure on myself, going out on Fridays and trying to back up a score. I have no problem shooting a low one on Thursday, so there should be no reason I have any problem shooting a low one on Friday. I think it just got into my head.

It's one of the oldest pitfalls in the book: You shoot an excellent opening round, make one or two mistakes early in the second and allow those mistakes to ruin the rest of your round. By the time you're finished, you're hopelessly behind on the leaderboard, and the final two rounds hardly matter.

Peter Morrison/Associated Press

Remember when he broke off his engagement with Caroline Wozniacki? The (very public) breakup didn't seem to haunt him at the BMW PGA Championship, his first victory in one of the major tours in roughly 18 months.

In fact, McIlroy believes the breakup was a good thing, as far as his game goes anyway. As reported by the Daily Mail's Derek Lawrenson, he said:

I think what happened has been for the better in terms of my golf.

I've put a bit more time into it and it has refocused me. I mean, what else do I have to do now? I go to the golf course, I go to the gym and it's just my life at the minute.

I worked pretty hard before but the past couple of months I've really just buried myself in my game. It obviously works pretty well, so I am going to keep doing it.

It didn't seem to pay off initially. McIlroy needed a sensational comeback (and a massive meltdown from Thomas Bjorn) to win at Wentworth, and his struggles with that one bad round continued.

And then Hoylake happened. A six-shot lead at the start of the final round turned into a two-shot lead in the blink of an eye, and it would have been so easy for McIlroy to fold on a course that had been so unkind to him in the past.

But he didn't, and when he lifted the Claret Jug, he looked like a new man. The PGA Championship came just a few weeks later, and while there were certainly some shaky moments, McIlroy appeared to be in total control of his game and emotions for the entire event.

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

The final day was rather tense, with rain breaks, high drama and a finale that ended in near darkness, and through it all, he remained calm. He now has four majors and his eyes on the Masters in 2015.

All of the adversity McIlroy faced earlier in the year contributed to this phenomenal run. He got so sick of the bad rounds that he took it on himself to eliminate them from his game altogether. The constant media attention and sudden change of pace following his breakup drove him back to the courses, more frequently than before.

McIlroy sits at the top of the golfing world right now, teaching youngsters all over the world a very important lesson: If you deal with adversity in the right way, you'll only be stronger for it.

 

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