McIlroy denies Nike clubs to blame for stuttering start
Rory McIlroy stubbornly denies his new Nike clubs are to blame for his stuttering start to the season.
But having crashed out after just two rounds on his debut with his new sticks on Abu Dhabi a month ago and then slipping to a scrappy defeat to Shane Lowry in the first round of the WCG-Accenture Match Play in Tucson, the 2013 version of McIlroy is plainly not the same player who swept all before him at the end of 2012.
Blaming his timing for his poor iron play, McIlroy is running out of time to get ready for the Masters but insists it’s a timing rather than an equipment issue.
“I’ve just been missing a lot of them right, just getting ahead of it,” he said of his irons. “I think it’s more a timing thing than anything else. Everything else was actually pretty good out there. I just need to go and work on them. It shouldn’t be a lot of work, I just have to go and look on the range at it.”
At least the new Nike driver that gave him so much trouble in Abu Dhabi appeared to behave itself this time.
“I felt like I drove the ball really well,” he said. “I hit the ball well off the tee. I just need to take advantage of the driving I’ve been doing.”
With just seven weeks to go before the Masters, McIlroy is guaranteed just eight more rounds of competitive golf in the run up to Augusta.
Honda Classic next
He won’t have more than a few miles to drive from his new West Palm Beach home as he defends the Honda Classic title against the likes of Tiger Woods at PGA National next week.
Another missed cut would set even more alarm bells ringing but he can at least count on playing all four rounds the following week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami, where there is no cut.
He will then play the Shell Houston Open two weeks before the Masters and while it sounds like very little golf, McIlroy insists that he’s still got plenty of time to knock the rust off his game.
“Yeah, I do, I do (feel rusty),” he said. “It’ll be nice to go play a tournament next week and then Doral, as well. Obviously disappointed I didn’t get to play a little more golf this week, but I’ll practice over the weekend.”
As for Pádraig Harrington, the Dubliner admitted that his first round defeat to Graeme McDowell eroded another layer of confidence in his putting.
Likely to fall out of the world’s top 50 and fail to qualify for Doral, he has two weeks off to work on it before playing three events before the Masters.
“I putted well for the first three events of the year but the greens have been tough the last couple of weeks,” Harrington said as he stroked numerous six-footers in semi-darkness. “It’s very hard to play well when you are missing putts. My long game would be in better stead if I wasn’t putting so badly.”