Rory McIlroy has only made the cut at TPC Sawgrass once in four previous starts (he finished T8 last year) and it looked like he was going to make it one for five after a disastrous front nine, where he posted a six-over 42. Then, he staged a fantastic comeback, showing great fight and a lot of heart to make the cut on the number.
Nothing was going right for McIlroy at the start of the day. He bogeyed nos. 3, 4 and 5, added a double-bogey on no. 6, then bogeyed no. 7.
“I just feel like I see one bad shot and then it turns into another and then another,” he said. “It’s not like a loss of confidence, but I just I don’t know, I just get into these little runs where I can’t seem to hit a solid shot. If I miss it, I miss it in the wrong spot. I had a couple of really hard lipouts, as well, on the 6th and the 7th hole. I don’t know, it seems like it’s just a bad stretch. I mean, I think I was 6-over par for a stretch of five holes today.”
After his front nine implosion, it appeared like he was once again going to be leaving TPC Sawgrass early.
“I battled back well,” he said. “My attitude probably cost me a couple of shots on the front nine, but on the back nine I was able to regroup and stay patient and knew that there were some birdies out there. It was nice to birdie the last just to make it into the weekend.”
McIlroy rallied on the back nine with a four-under 32, including birdies on two of the last three holes. Needing to birdie the 18th, he knocked his approach to 13 feet and rolled it in to post a two-over 74, even-par total. He walked off the green with a massive smile on his face.
“It’s funny, I feel very comfortable on the back nine here,” he said. “I played one ball on Wednesday, shot 5-under, shot 3-under on the back nine yesterday, and shot 4-under on it today. If I could only figure out the front nine, it would be okay.”
McIlroy encountered similar problems the last several tournaments on Friday, with the most recent bout at the Wells Fargo Championship this past week.
“(I did the) same exact thing,” he said. “Masters was the same, needed to hole a six-footer there to make the cut on the number. Houston was sort of the same — I shot 65 to post a top 10.
“It’s not where I want to be, but it seems I’m on this run where at least I’m making cuts. At least I’m on the right side of it this year instead of the wrong side. I gave myself an opportunity over the weekend to post a couple of good scores and post a top 10 finish again and maybe try and post something better than that.”
In the past, Rory has struggled with grinding it out when things didn’t go his way — it’s something he’s said that he wanted to work on. Well, it appears he’s improved in that category.
“I’m really happy about that, really proud of myself, happy with myself that I was able to do it,” said McIlroy. “Yeah, I could have I definitely could have thrown it in. Walking off the 8th tee, I bent my 3-iron over my shoulders. It’s like a boomerang. Walking off the 8th tee to walking onto the 18th green, giving myself a putt to make the cut was a good effort because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind in the middle of that round.”
McIlroy, who is even par for the tournament, trails Martin Kaymer by 12 shots, so he’ll have his work cut out for him to catch the leaders. Still, at least Rory gave himself a chance.