Rory Misses the Cut: So What?

What happened? That’s what a lot of Northern Ireland Rory McIlroy fans were thinking as they watched their beloved son collapse to an unfathomable opening round 80 at the Irish Open this past week. Despite being a home game, and despite his foundation being the official host for the week, Rory wasn’t hitting any competitive golf shots on the weekend.

If you’ve been keeping count of Rory’s missed cuts in his national open, you might find yourself running out of fingers. This year marks the third in a row where he’s failed to advance past Friday play — a disturbing stat indeed. Even more troubling, it was the second week in a row where McIlroy missed the cut failing to make it into the money at the PGA Championship at Wentworth the week before.

Panic button engaged.

By now, we all know the script. If they haven’t started already, another less than phenomenal showing the next time Rory tees it up and the questions will start pouring in. What’s wrong with Rory? What’s happened to Rory? Is Rory in a slump? Will Rory be back? Everyone will be quick to offer their theories, opinions and explanations, as if something were actually wrong. But I’ll tell you without hesitating that nothing is wrong with Rory.

And believe me folks, I’m right.

Young Rory is a one-dimensional player (I can hear the groans and moans already). Before explaining what I mean by that, I should clarify that I’m using the term “one-dimensional” simply as an observation.

Rory is a great North American golfer. He hits the ball high; he hits the ball far and the ball lands on a pillow when he’s on his game. I have no qualms conceding he might be the best golfer of all time when it comes to playing golf “North American style.” But that also means he needs benign conditions to play well and contend.

After the 2011 Open Championship Rory said, “I’m not a fan of golf tournaments that the outcome is predicted so much by the weather…it’s not my sort of golf.” He followed that up with “I’d rather play when it’s 80 degrees and sunny and not much wind.” These are very interesting statements, especially coming from someone who grew up playing in a country where weather is as much a challenge as the golf course.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received came from a PGA of Canada professional who is also a good friend of mine. He said, “Few golf shots will end up positive if you aren’t positive before you strike it.” Dear Rory, there lies problem number one — stop being a fair-weather golfer.

What else supports my theory of Rory as a one-dimensional golfer. Have you seen the course Rory grew up playing back home? Take a minute to look at Holywood Golf Club. I’ve been there, and it’s a great change in pace from the rest of the courses in Northern Ireland, but it’s far from the type of course you would expect in this part of the world. It’s green, lush, tree-lined and, when I was there, you guessed it, soft. Tee it high and let it fly is the name of the game.

McIlroy has 11 wins on the PGA TOUR. But if you take the time to look back, you’ll find all the courses played soft and/or had very little wind when he won. How about the Open Championship in 2014 at Royal Liverpool I hear you yell. I’ll just say it was no coincidence he won on a venue that made more headlines for being so green and soft than for demanding a links-style of play.

But all this one-dimensional speak leads me back to this week’s Irish Open. So Rory missed the cut, it’s not like he hasn’t done it before.

In 2012, he missed three cuts in four starts beginning with The Players Championship. He also missed cuts at the 2013 Open Championship and this year’s Honda Classic. Lucky for us, history predicts that every missed cut means an extraordinary rebound. In 2012 he won the PGA, Deutsche Bank and BMW Championships, for example.

So to all the Rory fans out there, stop panicking and be sure to tune into the golf telecasts when the weather calls for a soft course, little wind and warm temperatures. You can be certain you’ll find Rory McIlroy near the top of the leaderboard.

As for missing cuts, as long as Rory doesn’t start missing his high push draws on the good days, all is good in Rory land.

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