HOYLAKE, England — Rory McIlroy calls it his “second-round thing.”
Just something in his head.
Unfortunately for the two-time major champion, it has become a very real problem.
For some reason, McIlroy has struggled mightily on Fridays, a subject that came up again as he prepared for the British Open.
This year, McIlroy has played the opening round at a cumulative 49-under par. On the weekends, he’s a combined 39 under. But on Fridays, for some reason, he’s at 15 over.
“I have no problem shooting a low one on Thursday,” he said. “There should be no reason I have any problem shooting a low one on Friday.”
If only it was that easy.
Three times this year, McIlroy has opened a tournament with a 63. Not once did he build on those impressive starts and win the tournament. Most notably, he blew up to a 78 in the second round of the Memorial.
Last week, more of the same at the Scottish Open. McIlroy opened with a 7-under 64, only to shoot 14 strokes higher the following day. Fierce winds contributed to the dismal score, but that didn’t fully explain why he had another poor showing in Round 2.
“I just got it into my head,” McIlroy said. “I may be putting too much pressure on myself, going out on Fridays and trying to back up a (good) score.”
At age 25, McIlroy already has two of golf’s biggest titles on his résumé, capturing the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 U.S. PGA Championship with runaway victories. He’d love to move another step closer to a career Grand Slam at Royal Liverpool, though he has never been an especially big fan of links golf.
“I guess when you go on tour and especially when you play the majority of your golf in the U.S., you start to neglect some of the shots you might need in conditions like this,” McIlroy said. “I don’t think I’ve evolved that much as a links player, but I’ve been trying, especially the past few weeks, to play some shots, really practice hard on some of the shots that I might need this week.”
He will be playing his seventh British Open, with only one previous top-10 performance. Last year at Muirfield, McIlroy opened with a 79 and missed the cut.
“The Open Championship is a tournament that’s very important to me,” he insisted. “And my record in it hasn’t been as good as I’d like. I’d love to improve on that.”