McIlroy takes early flight home

 

THE OFFICIAL world rankings don’t lie. Not usually. Here at the Olympic Club, though, the world’s top two ranked players, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy, made the listings appear as factual as a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale. The two played their way to an early plane ticket home.

For McIlroy, the next pitstop will be a little more familiar: the Irish Open at Royal Portrush. For Donald, it will be a week later: the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart. To be honest, though, the scars from the season’s second Major will take a little bit of healing.

These days, it is the Majors – contending and winning – that matter more than anything. Number one in the world rankings provides kudos, but it is Major titles that define careers.

At least McIlroy has one to his CV and, at 23, has time on his side. Still, a fourth missed cut in his last five appearances, and especially coming in a Major, left a bitter taste in the mouth. The fact he had his bags packed and was en route to the airport as soon as his card was handed in told its own story.

“It’s a reminder to me to keep working hard. I know the game doesn’t come easy. I felt like I played okay, to be honest, but you only have to be a fraction off here and you’re making bogeys. It’s disappointing but I will just head home and play some links golf,” said a disappointed McIlroy, who admitted he had taken an aggressive birdie putt on the eighth – his finishing hole – in an effort to make the cut.

As it happened, his birdie putt on the last went 18 inches past the hole and, symptomatic of the day that was in it, he missed the short putt back to confirm his fate of a missed cut.

“I’ll be very disappointed if the cut is nine-over and I’ve missed out by one.” He shot a second round 73 for 150, 10-over.

McIlroy’s US Open record is a bit like that of a jack in the box: 10th-MC-1st-MC. Now, though, his focus will switch to links golf as he prepares for the Irish Open, and then next month’s British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes

McIlroy’s abject disappointment was mirrored by Donald. For a player whose game would seemingly be tailor-made for US Open set-ups, Donald has struggled through the years to get to grips with the course set-ups. He has yet to manage a top-10 in a US Open and yesterday he was left to rue another missed cut after shooting a second round 72 for 151, 11-over.

Donald, who had decided not to make any visit to Olympic prior to the championship, didn’t think his decision was wrong. Even in hindsight.

“I’ve tried various things. The problem these days when we play Majors is the week before is nothing like when you get to Thursday, even Wednesday was different to Thursday. They have a knack to get this course playing differently. When it comes to turning up on Thursday morning, it seems like a different animal,” said Donald.

As for the quest for a maiden Major? “That’s the one part of my golfing resume in the last few years especially that I need to continually address and continually improve. “I want to win one more than any of you guys know. And obviously I’ll continue to try and do that . . . In terms of that attitude of pressing too hard, I don’t think so. I think it was more a case of just not quite feeling too comfortable with the swing this week. And that happens. I feel that not just Major weeks but other weeks too,” said Donald.

He added: “I was a little off. And that’s going to get you around a US Open course.”

Peter Lawrie’s debut in the championship ended early, as the Dubliner added a second round 77 to finish on 151, 11-over.

“I played poorly at the start of my round, to be fair. I missed too many fairways, and it’s very tough to score out of the rough round here. But I battled back well and gave myself plenty of chances on the way in, on the 14th 15th, 17th and 18th – I just couldn’t take any of them. I brought my game here, but it just didn’t happen. But c’est la vie; hopefully I’ll be back more often,” said Lawrie.

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