‘I feel like I’m walking around out there and I’m unconscious’
Ulsterman suffers meltdown in first round of British Open as he slumps to an ugly 79
He expanded: “All you’re trying to do is get the ball in the hole in the least amount of shots as possible. That’s all you’re thinking about out there or trying to think about, anyway.
And that’s what I’ve been so good at in the past, and obviously that’s the point I’m trying to get back to . . . I’m fully focused on the golf out there. But it’s been fully focused on each and every shot and what you really want to do with it and visualisation and everything. It’s just something I’ve never experienced before.”
The round wasn’t actually McIlroy’s highest in the British Open – that came when he shot a second round 80 at St Andrews in 2010 – but it constituted his highest opening score, taking in a outward 37 that didn’t hint at the real damage that came in an inward 42 that featured four bogeys, two double-bogeys and a lone birdie.
It was the latest in a run of disappointments for McIlroy in a season that saw him walk off the course in the second round of the Honda Classic in Florida back in March and where he has failed to rediscover the magic that made him the world number one last year, when he topped the money lists in both Europe and on the US Tour.
McIlroy hasn’t blamed his clubs – having moved to Nike from Titleist – nor has he blamed his technique, putting the ball fairly and squarely into court of his mental state. “I feel like I’m hitting the ball okay. I just can’t put it altogether mentally out there . . . I’m definitely under-thinking on the golf course, maybe over-thinking it off of it.”
A trip back to Dr Bob Rotella on the agenda? “I’ve worked with Bob before a little bit. And, yeah, it could be beneficial to see someone like that again, we’ll see.”
More immediately, McIlroy will set about trying to salvage this championship. As improbable as that would seem, he wasn’t throwing in the towel.
“As long as I can somewhat get my mind in a better place, you know, I can go out there and try and shoot a good score,” said McIlroy.