Darren Clarke last night backed Rory McIlroy to put his poor form behind him and turn on the style at this week’s Open Championship.
World No 4 McIlroy will go into tomorrow’s first round at Royal Birkdale having missed the cut in three of his last four starts since returning from a second stint on the sidelines this season with a rib injury.
It has led to talk of another slump in the 28-year-old’s rollercoaster career but after playing nine practice holes together, Clarke said he has seen enough to convince him there are good times coming.
“He is swinging well,” the 2011 Open champion said of his friend McIlroy. “He’s hitting it pretty good and he’s stroking it well but he’s not holing any putts, though. He’s put a one-iron in the bag and it’s going like a bullet. He’s playing nicely. I’m expecting him to get the season going and have a good week.”
Clarke is not alone in thinking talk of McIlroy’s demise is misplaced. Justin Rose believes there is no need for alarm at his Ryder Cup team-mate’s struggles and that McIlroy has just been searching for tournament sharpness.
“When you come out of the injury phase and you feel good and you feel fresh and you feel ready to play golf again, you somewhat expect your game to be there,” Rose said.
“But there’s an element of just being back to being tournament sharp. You can hit as many balls on the range sometimes as you want, but there’s something for being said for just being tournament sharp.
“He (McIlroy) is probably somewhere in the middle of that. I know he’s playing a lot of golf right now. He’s missed a couple of cuts, but those might be the sort of competitive practices and runs that he needed just to start to get sharp again.
“And the one thing about Rory is as soon as you question him, he’ll do something special and turn it all around. It’s happened a few times in his career where people say he’s in a bit of a slump and then he’ll win at FedExCup.
“So never worry about him from that point of view.”
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