Rory McIlroy is at risk of losing his first tournament in months, thanks to inconsistent play at The Barclays. Though his past three events have gone smoothly, ending in victory each time, his first three rounds of these playoffs have been above and below par. While Tiger Woods mends at home, and issues a challenge to Rory, the golf world’s No. 1 struggles to remain near the leaders at this venue. On the other hand, other golfers such as Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar have been in contention since the first day, each shooting below par in every round.
The first round was a rocky one. Rory shot a 74 on the course and quickly fell behind on the leaderboard. This tournament is the first of four that will determine the FedEx Cup champion, and in the midst of his winning streak, Rory was considered a favorite. However, once his round ended, many analysts were wondering what happened to shake McIlroy from his perch. He registered bogeys on holes 13 and 18, then a double-bogey on 12, leaving him dead last after the first day and eight off the lead. He summed up his play afterward by simply saying, “I’m not quite on my game today.”
His second and third rounds at Barclays were improvements to a degree, but still inconsistent for Rory McIlroy during his current streak. The round Friday saw a far lower result at a six-under-par 65, shooting him up the leader board on the tailend of a tweet that called the comeback. “Morning gym session done,” the tweet from McIlroy said, “ready to make a comeback today.” He said that it was apparent to him on the first tee that his range work had brought his game back to a place where he felt he could compete with the field again.
Third round action started with him off the lead by only a couple of strokes, but that ballooned to a five-stroke deficit by the end of the day. A double-bogey and two more bogeys happened within the first nine holes and a birdie later was cancelled out by another bogey on the back nine. The number of bogeys in his game lately is well off from his previous three tournaments, where he was not over par for any of the 12 rounds. His closest to par was the last round of The Open Championship with a one-under-par 71.
Tiger Woods, another player dealing with inconsistency, has had his recent comments to Rory McIlroy fuel plenty of speculated competitive heat between the two. Rory himself said that, during their tour around New York together in which their Nike products were being advertised, Tiger had some things to say to him. “We talked about a few things,” Rory began. He then paraphrased what Woods said to him in regards to the Masters tournament next year: “He’s telling me like ‘I’m not going to let you win a green jacket next year.'” That will be the event where Rory McIlroy goes after the golf career grand slam of winning all four majors, a feat in which only five others, Tiger included, have accomplished.
Commentary by Myles Gann