Rory Hopes to Draw Inspiration From Darren Clarke's 2011 Victory
RORY McILROY is hoping to draw inspiration from Darren Clarke at Royal St George’s as he competes in this week’s Open Championship on the back of a tied 59th finish at the Irish Open and a missed cut at the Scottish Open.
The Kent course last played host to The Open in 2011 when Clarke triumphed by three shots to claim his only major victory at the age of 42.
Clarke had plummeted to 111th in the world rankings ahead of The Open and credited his improved form to a chat with American golf psychologist Bob Rotella on the eve of the tournament which helped to sort out glitches in his putting stroke.
McIlroy believes the key to his fellow Ulsterman's victory was taking away the expectation and remaining on an even keel with such a fine line between success and failure. And it is fair to say that McIlroy will tee off on Thursday with no expectations.
"I think a lot of players play their best when there is no expectation, trying to take that expectation off and that's what happened with Darren that time," said McIlroy. "He felt like he couldn't get the ball in the hole, felt he wasn't hitting it good. He practised, had that famous chat with Bob Rotella on the Wednesday afternoon and saw how that transformed him.
"When you are playing badly it is never as far away as you think it is and when you are playing well you are never that far away from playing badly again. There are such fine lines in the game.
"Just when you think you have figured it all out it knocks you back a bit and whenever you feel you are lost you get a spark and off you go again. It's a very fickle game, that's the nature of it unfortunately, and everyone who has played the game at a high level knows that.
"You don't want the lows to be too low but you don't want to get too above yourself or get too high or too filled with expectation because that is no good either. Being on a pretty even keel in this game is always going to stand you in good stead."
McIlroy had won the US Open in sensational fashion in 2011 before heading to Royal St George’s. He played a practice round with Clarke, that year's Masters winner Charl Schwartzel and the defending Open champion, Louis Oosthuizen.
"It was sort of the three of us being major champions and Darren did feel left out," said McIlroy.
The Northern Irishman arrived in Kent early after failing to make the weekend at the Renaissance Club. "As soon as I stood up on every tee box I was like, 'Oh yeah, I remember this,'” he said. "The landscape looks so barren, there's not a lot of stuff that stands out. It's just a bunch of dunes and it's hard to see where the holes go. But once you stand on the tees you remember.
“I wanted to get out and play and re-familiarise myself with the golf course. Now I can just sort take it a little easier."
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