McIlroy aims to come roaring back at Wentworth

Anyone who had a heart felt for Rory McIlroy as his dream of Masters glory turned into the nightmare of a closing 80.

Nick Faldo compared it to being thrown in at the deep end – but now comes the time for McIlroy to try to show that, far from drowning, he is ready to go swimming again.

The most encouraging thing for the 22-year-old Northern Irishman as he gets ready for the US Open at Congressional on June 16-19 is that he knows that others have suffered similar collapses and have come back to win again.

This is the championship which Dustin Johnson led by three with a round to go at Pebble Beach last year and collapsed to an 82.

Johnson was also the one who last August had a two-stroke penalty slapped on him and as a result missed out on the play-off at the US PGA Championship.

But a month later he won the third of the FedEx Cup play-offs.

Fellow American Nick Watney, meanwhile, blew that US PGA lead with an 81 – he too was three clear after 54 holes – but this March the scars had clearly healed as he won the Cadillac world championship in inspired fashion in Miami.

Neither of the victories by Johnson and Watney were majors, of course, and if McIlroy does win in Washington now what a story it would be.

But that is his aim and, given his undoubted star quality, who is to say he won’t do it?

Even though the fact remains that three of the last four players to be out in front in a major with a round to go failed to break 80 and that of the last eight major winners only one – Louis Oosthuizen at St Andrews last July – was also the 54-hole leader, McIlroy believes he can do it the hard way.

“I went out (at Augusta, where he was four in front) just trying to keep the lead instead of thinkng ’right, I’m going to go out, shoot 65, beat everyone by eight and just show everybody how good I am’,” he said.

“That’s really what you should be going out and looking at.”

Among all the messages he received afterwards was one from Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, well aware that McIlroy is a fan of the Premier League champions.

The advice was to talk to the people closest to him rather than listening to or reading the opinions of outsiders.

“Similar to (David) Beckham when he was being hounded by the British media after getting sent off at the (1998) World Cup,” said McIlroy.

“Fergie told him to come back to Manchester and to the people who loved him. It can happen to anyone. It’s tough to finish off tournaments no matter who you are – Tiger (Woods) made it look so easy for 15 years or whatever.”

The green jacket that McIlroy hoped to leave the Masters with was worn instead by his stablemate Charl Schwartzel.

And, as fate would have it, they travelled together all the way to Malaysia.

The South African did not want to rub the youngster’s face in it and could not have been more impressed with how McIlroy handled the situation.

“I think it was really spectacular – I mean, he must have been obviously hurting,” said Schwartzel.

“He said ’where’s the jacket? I want a photo with it.’ I thought that was pretty cool and for him to suggest that takes some courage.

“It looked like he forgot about it very quickly and with that sort of attitude he’ll be winning some major championships.”

To make it the next one played would be truly spectacular.


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