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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 294
O ne round of professional golf has the ability to make or break a player’s season and the potential to reshape their entire career. Take this year’s Masters Tournament for example. Patrick Reed produced one of the gutsiest rounds of his life and will now forever don the green jacket. Then there was Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman, who played alongside Reed in the final pairing, was just one decent round away from becoming the sixth player in history to complete the career Grand Slam. Instead, he signed for two-over 74 (only four players shot worse scores) and slipped down the leaderboard to share fifth place. “I went out on the final day obviously giving myself a chance ... I got onto that 1st tee and I was quite nervous,” McIlroy said. “I’ve had a pretty good career, but I know I can do better.” Since that disappointing afternoon at Augusta National, McIlroy has missed the cut at two of the season’s biggest events – The Players Championship and the US Open – and recorded just two top-10 finishes worldwide. This week he returns to the European Tour to host the Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club, where he will be desperate to rediscover the form that’s won him four major titles. But despite his deep connection to the tournament – and his clutch victory in 2016 – McIlroy has not played well at home throughout his professional career. In fact, the former World No.1 has now missed five of the last six cuts at this event. So why does McIlroy struggle at the Irish Open? His hosting duties with the Rory Foundation and the pressure from his legion of fans must surely have some effect. But there’s one damming statistic that suggests his natural game is suffering whenever he returns home. Since turning professional, McIlroy has increased the trajectory of his shots considerably (he is currently ranked sixth in that regard on the PGA Tour). This serves him well off the tee and when he’s attacking soft, I’ve had a pretty good career, but I know I can do better. -RORY MCILROY COVER STORY
GA Express 293 Peter Thomson tribute
GA Express 295