Rory McIlroy Fails to Reach Weekend in Irish Open
Part of the beauty in competition is human inconsistency. In difficult tasks, erratic humans are attempting to make fluid situations solid, and we just can’t do it. The laurel wreath goes to the person who does it better than anyone else, and even that changes from week to week. There’s not a professional golfer in the history of the game who hasn’t experience inconsistency. It’s more the rule than the exception. One day the wedge works, and the driver can only find the corn field. The next week, it’s reversed. One day the putts drop, and the next day they don’t. In June, one has nothing but magic with a middle iron, but can’t get up and down from the fringe. Rory McIlroy is having that kind of year, and although he’s handling it with great civility, there’s no way he likes it, especially when it happens close to home.
McIlroy is a major talent. I can’t imagine anyone putting up much of an argument against that. He has a recent history, however, of wide swings in his game. He has missed a cut, then shaken it off, proceeding to win two subsequent tournaments. Hitting on all pistons, he is among the most feared golfers on the planet. At other times, he’s the finicky Ferrari that sits in the garage because the owner can’t find the right part to tweak in order to get it started.
But still, not making the cut at the Irish Open has to bring a little extra disappointment. After all, that’s home. Ireland, both halves of it, have produced more than its share of great golfers, but Rory leads the group, at least he did in early promise. It’s actually happened several times at this tournament, and the struggle between corn field and cup has befuddled McIlroy at every turn. Rory himself describes being able to put a 220 yard 5 iron in the middle (no need to show off – 220 yard 5 iron, indeed). At the same time, he has trouble getting up and down in regulation from thirty yards out. A lot of muni players could explain how easy that is to have happen, but they can’t fix it – Rory McIlroy can.
Mega-talents are often the sort of people who get a special hunger around big events, and have a tendency to show up in fine form. McIlroy has won majors, and we all expect more to come. Then he misses the cut at the U.S. Open. It’s puzzling to him that despite competing only three times since spring, he generally seems to be playing well. He’s “not far away.” And, he’s right to say so.
It takes us back, not only to the inconsistency of humans, but to the almost other-wordly demands of getting that ball in the hole from hundreds of yards away, with sticks. Shooting a score that misses the cut is so ironically close to shooting the 63 that wins the tournament. A putt not dropping here or there, clearing the pond, or not quite clearing it – a beautiful or disastrous bunker shot, and the inevitable corn field. A round of golf swings so easily between spectacular, so-so, and catastrophic. That’s why so many of us, when asked how we did, respond with “Well, I hit some good shots.” Unless we’re a Rory McIlroy, that’s the best we can say. We can’t go eighteen holes with everything going well, or recovering from everything that doesn’t.
Maybe Rory McIlroy can’t find the right part to tweak just yet, but he’ still a Ferrari. A 72 and 73 to miss the cut at the Irish Open will, sure as you’re born, tweak itself into a 63 and 64 to win a big one before he’s done. Just a putt here, an approach there, and a little less cornfield.