McIlroy defends pre-Players form: ‘I should be contending’

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McIlroy defends pre-Players form: ‘I should be contending’

Rory McIlroy has admitted his results haven’t lived up to expectations as he looks to bounce back from a slow start to the PGA Tour season at The Players.

McIlroy made a strong start to the year when he followed a runner-up finish at the Dubai Invitational with a win at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic on the DP World Tour, although he has failed to post a top-20 finish in his first four appearances on the PGA Tour.

The Northern Irishman impressed off the tee at the Genesis Invitational, Cognizant Classic and Arnold Palmer Invitational but struggled with his approach play at Bay Hill last week, with McIlroy disappointed not to be challenging for victory so far this season.

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Rory McIlroy looks back through his ‘rocky history’ with the PGA Tour’s most iconic tournament, The Players Championship.

“I’m not missing cuts, but at the same time, with how I’ve driven the golf ball the last three weeks, I should be contending in the tournaments that I’ve played,” McIlroy told the media ahead of The Players.

“Yeah, a little bit of work to do with the irons and trying to get those straightened out, but I feel like every other part of the game is in great shape.

“I’m driving the ball well. I feel like I figured out my putting last week and I putted well the last three days at Bay Hill, so it’s just taking advantage of the positions I’m putting myself in off the tee.”

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Andrew Coltart and David Howell debate whether Rory McIlroy should have given Scottie Scheffler putting tips after the world number one stormed to a dominant win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Speaking specifically on his iron play issues, McIlroy added: “I have this amazing feeling with my woods at the minute but when I try to recreate that feeling with the irons, it starts left and goes further left.

“I love this feeling of firing my right arm down the target line and I can do that with my woods really well, but then when I try to do that with my irons, the club face closes over and goes left. It’s almost like two different swings.

“I have a swing thought for my woods and I need a different swing thought for my irons, and that’s what I’ve been working on over the last couple of days.”

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McIlroy: I’m not giving Scheffler more advice!

Scottie Scheffler arrives as the pre-tournament favourite to become the first back-to-back champion in Players history, with the world No 1 coming in off the back of an impressive five-shot victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

McIlroy finished tied-21st at Bay Hill as Scheffler cruised to victory, his seventh PGA Tour title in 25 months, with the win coming in the American’s first start since switching from a blade to a mallet putter to try and enjoy more success on the greens.

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Andrew Coltart and David Howell debate whether Rory McIlroy should have given Scottie Scheffler putting tips after the world number one stormed to a dominant win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I’m not going to give him any more advice, that’s for sure,” McIlroy joked, having suggested Scheffler tried a mallet putter during last month’s Genesis Invitational. “It’s very hard to talk about other players. Scottie has had enough criticism about his putting.

“It was me basically trying to talk about myself more than talk about Scottie. It was like, okay, when I putted with a blade, I struggled. When I went to the Spider, I found a little more success and I was a little more consistent. I didn’t know he was going to put it straight in the bag and win by five!

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Speaking on the Sky Sports Golf Podcast, Andrew Coltart and David Howell say Scottie Scheffler could dominate golf if he can continue his improved recent form with his putter.

“I think over the years, coming up through the ranks, people have been good enough to me if I’ve asked them for advice to give me advice, so I think I should be able to repay that to other people if they come to me.”

‘Clock is ticking’ for a McIlroy major?

Mcllroy won The Players in 2019 but has missed the cut in two of his last three visits to TPC Sawgrass, while this week’s event is his penultimate scheduled start before The Masters next month.

The 34-year-old will have another chance to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National, with McIlroy acknowledging that a fifth major victory and first in a decade is long overdue.

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Andrew Coltart believes Rory McIlroy will not be in contention for the win at The Players based on his recent form.

“I look at my record in the majors over the last couple of years and I’ve definitely started to perform much more consistently in them,” McIlroy explained.

“Look, I’m under no illusion that the clock is ticking and it has been 10 years since I’ve won one of them, and I’ve had chances, and those just haven’t went my way. I just need to keep putting myself in those positions, and sooner or later it’s going to happen.”

Watch The Players live throughout the week on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday from 11.30am on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the PGA Tour and more with NOW.

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