Finding the formula
After missing two cuts, Rory McIlroy is still searching for the right balance in his golf, says Rob Lee.
Last Updated: 30/05/12 2:39pm
Well, I didn't expect Rory McIlroy to miss two cuts in a row.
He has been quoted as saying he's taken his foot off the gas a little bit in terms of the number of hours he's been putting in. If he's identified that as the cause, then he needs to go about fixing that before the US Open.
In the past he's always concentrated on pacing his season so that he doesn't burn himself out, but at the moment maybe he's undercooked rather than overcooked.
Having missed the cut at the Players Championship and at Wentworth, people are highlighting issues such as his private life, but it wasn't long ago that he was on an unbelievable run of top-five finishes. That part of his life was the same back then.
All he's got to do is work out how to find the right balance between preparation and time off. How much time do you dedicate to practice? How much time do you dedicate to travel? How much time do you dedicate to playing golf tournaments? How much time do you dedicate to doing nothing?
At the age of 23, he's still working out what makes him perform at his best and this is all part of the learning curve. He's still young and this is an evolution for him.
Let's not forget that a lot of people want a chunk of him now; that's what comes when you play golf as well as he does. I think he's handled that side of things remarkably well.
I know he is going to hold another charity event at Holywood Golf Club to raise money for kids in the local area. He will go and run a clinic and give something back to the community and things like that show his head is still in the right place.
So it's unfair to criticise him for throwing a golf club away at Wentworth last week. I don't mind that. I can name hundreds of players who've chucked clubs, myself included and, in general, I would say Rory is a very well-behaved boy.
I'm not bothered by things like that, but they get picked up because he's missed a couple of cuts.
McIlroy has changed his approach ahead of the US Open. He doesn't usually play the week before a major, but he's confirmed he's going to play next week's St Jude Classic right before the second major of the year.
He's also playing the Memorial Tournament this week, which means the US Open will be his fourth tournament in four weeks and his sixth in seven. He doesn't often put himself through a busy run like that, but he's trying to maximise his talent and he obviously feels he hasn't had enough rounds.
A lot of players put their schedule in stone for the year and treat it as if it's bombproof, but why shouldn't you change your mind? I don't think it should be quite so rigid.
Your schedule should be a framework, but you should be able to change it. If you feel tired you should be able to take a week off, or if you feel you need more golf then you should be able to play on a spare week.
The way you play golf should be an evolution. You work out how your body works best, how your swing works best, how your schedule works best and how your team works best. You have to work out the best formula for you, but also understand that formula can change. What was best for you five years ago might not be good for you now.
McIlroy is responding to his season. He clearly feels underplayed - and he won't be happy to have had a couple of weekends off after missing cuts - so this is him trying to regain the level he was at just a few weeks ago.
It's clearly important to him to defend his US Open title, but that will be far from easy. Not too many people have done it over the years and by all accounts Olympic Club is going to be very tough.
But things can turn around very quickly. Just ask Luke Donald, who has swapped roles with McIlroy in the last few weeks.
Rory was on top of the world, he almost couldn't finish outside the top five, and I thought he was going to hold on at the top of the rankings for a very long time. Meanwhile, Donald was struggling to live up to last year's form. All of a sudden, McIlroy has dipped slightly and Donald is back at world number one after a really impressive win at Wentworth.
People are now asking if he can win a major and of course he can. The BMW PGA Championship is a big event, the flagship tournament on the European Tour, and nobody else even looked like winning it last week. That's when you know a guy is playing well.
He needs a good driving week to win a major, though. His iron play and his short game are really top notch and if he can get things right with the driver then that major might not be too far away.
Rob's Sky Bet Tips
Memorial Tournament - Justin Rose
McIlroy and Donald will be joined in the field by Tiger Woods and various other top names, but my tip is Justin Rose. He played well last week and won here in 2010, so this is evidently a course he likes. He's high up in greens in regulation, which is a good stat to be doing well in.
Wales Open - Paul Lawrie
I'm going for Lawrie because he's a former champion and, again, he played very well last week. He has chosen not to enter the US Open because he wants to concentrate on maximising his Ryder Cup points and who's to say he's wrong? He's never done well at the US Open and after picking up a good chunk of points last week I'm backing him to get some more in Wales.