Rory Needed a Breather
By Stephanie Wei under British Open

Give the kid a break!

After clobbering the field by eight shots at the US Open last month, Rory McIlroy decided to take some time away from competitive golf until next week’s Open Championship. Naturally, several questioned his strategy, including former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie. (Haters gonna hate, right? Ugh.) Well, Rory was finally sick of the critics and responded via his website:

Some people may have wondered why I chose to go from one major straight to another without anything in between and the answer is simple.  Because of what happened at Congressional and the way it became such a big deal, I wanted to get everything out of the way and sorted so that when I did start playing again I could just concentrate on golf.

If I had gone to France I just would not have been able to practice or prepare properly.  Every time I play I want to go out there with a chance to win and that wouldn’t have happened.  There were so many commitments and so much Media to do that I would have not been able to give my best so I decided to wait until I was absolutely ready.

I didn’t touch a club for 10 days after the US Open and then after just hitting balls on the range at home it did feel good when I finally got out on the course again.  That was at Wentworth on Monday when I did a company day for Jumeirah and then I went down to Royal St. George’s on Tuesday and Wednesday so that I could get a good look before too many people were there.

The practice was great because we had one calm day and one when the wind got up so I got a great feel of what we can expect.  It wasn’t my first visit because I remember playing the 2005 Home Internationals there and also the British Amateur the following year.  And, more important, I like the course.

Some people think it’s a bit quirky in places, but I believe it’s a good test of golf.  I don’t think the rough will be as heavy as they’d like it, but it will still be tough.

For me, it’s quite different to a lot of the other links courses because the greens at Sandwich are quite undulating with some pretty severe slopes in places.  In some cases you can’t just run the ball up, you have to fly the ball all the way to the green and that’s ok by me.

Works for me. Golf is an individual sport, and at the end of the day, Rory has to do what’s best for him.

Rory hanging out with John McEnroe at Wimbledon

During his break, he had the opportunity to have some fun, including going to Wimbledon.

Having a break from the game did give me a chance to do some things I wouldn’t normally have done and one of those was to go to Wimbledon twice… and into the Royal Box.

I also had the opportunity to go in the locker room with my good friend Rafa Nadal and I also got to meet Roger Federer –  two legends together.   That was on the Monday and then I went back for the final which was another great experience although not the result I was hoping for.

Rory also acknowledged Tiger’s unfortunate absence this year at Royal St. George’s:

Tiger Woods won’t have a chance this year because unfortunately he has not recovered from his injuries.  It’s always a disappointment when Tiger isn’t in the field because people want to see him play and he brings so much to the game.  On the other hand, when he isn’t there it increases my and everybody else’s chances, but I’d certainly prefer him to be there.

No surprise — McIlroy is still the strong betting favorite for the Open.

(AP Photos)