2011 British Open: Five Reasons We Won't Witness a Rory McIlroy Comeback
Rory McIlroy trails the leaders by four strokes entering Saturday's third round. While that is not a large margin, it is unlikely that he will be able to make a run at the Claret Jug.
His game in general is not a fit for a links-style course like Royal St. George's, and scoring should get tougher on the weekend. Here are five reasons why McIlroy will not make a comeback.
5. He Trails 18 Players
Four strokes is not a large deficit, but 18 players will be hard to overcome. Notable players ahead of McIlroy include Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Davis Love III, Tom Lehman, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel, and leading the tournament are Lucas Glover and Darren Clarke.
This is a list that includes major champions, veterans that know how to close and a lot of talent. These are all men who will be highly motivated, as wins redefine their careers. Asking him to outperform every one of these golfers is a tall order.
4. Poor Weather Conditions
Saturday expects to see heavy rain followed by increasing winds. The winds should remain heavy on Sunday as well.
This does not bode well for McIlroy, as his game suffers greatly in harsh conditions. Consider last year's Open when he shot a second-round 80 in heavy winds. More recently, he blew a a 36-hole lead in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic after the winds picked up.
His high ball flight is not suited well for windy conditions. What allows him to be such a great ball striker hurts him in the wind.
3. Approach Shots
McIlroy is capable of hitting approach shots like no one else in the world. His high ball flight, especially with longer clubs, allows him to attack pins other can't.
To attack pins at Royal St. George's requires a different strategy. The shot needs to be run up, rather than flown to it. This nullifies McIlroy's advantage over the field.
There aren't many opportunities to stick the pin. He won't be able to create many more scoring chances than other players in the field, which he usually can.
McIlroy is not a strong putter. Even at the US Open, he only finished 37th in the field. Through two days, he has taken a total of 58 putts. He has missed many makeable putts, such as the first two holes on Friday.
Making up ground requires good putting. At this type of course and in the wind, it becomes even more crucial. The likelihood of tap-in birdies and pars decreases.
McIlroy cannot afford to miss chances the way he usually can, because he cannot create as many. His putter will have to get hot like it did at Quail Hollow in 2009 for a comeback to be in order.
1. Rory Isn't a Links Golfer
McIlroy has a game that is not suited for links golf. Further, links golf is unnatural to him.
While his area of the world is synonymous with links golf courses, McIlroy learned to play in a much different environment. Hollywood Golf Club is a tree lined, narrow course with small greens.
McIlroy without a doubt, has incredible talent. Playing on the links however takes away his main strengths as a golfer. It also forces him to play in a way that isn't very natural for him.
He doesn't want to run the ball to the hole, he wants to fly it. He is much more tailored to Augusta or Congressional than to Royal St. George's.
While he has enough ability to win at a links course, the factors this week may prove too much. The bad weather and number of other contending golfers will make his comeback a long shot.