Proof that the world No1 is not immune to the emotions which can torture amateurs arrived on the 8th hole of Doral’s Blue Monster course on Friday.
Rory McIlroy, having pulled his second shot to the par five deep into a water hazard, promptly flung his three-iron into the same pond – beyond the point of retrieval or, by his own estimations, “60 or 70 yards”. This resembled Olympic hammer throwing rather than golf and an extraordinary moment in anybody’s language.
McIlroy will inevitably be fined for his red mist episode at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, though such sanctions are never revealed to the public. McIlroy was one under par for the round and level for the tournament at the time. The shot which sparked his anger was at least 40 yards offline. He bogeyed the hole and had to play the rest of his round without the club number in question; a replacement is, however, now en route from the Nike factory in Texas.
“It felt good at the time,” said McIlroy with a rueful smile after his round. “I just let frustration get the better of me. It was heat of the moment and if it had been any other club I probably wouldn’t have but I didn’t need a three-iron for the rest of the round so I thought, why not?
“Looking back at it, that wasn’t one of my proudest moments. When you’re struggling, you need something to just give you a spark; I’m not saying that was it, but it could have been. I played a little better on the back nine, but I’m still just not as comfortable with my game as I’d like.”
With 36 holes played and having carded a second round of 70, McIlroy is one under par and in the hardly disastrous position of tied 11th on a course he has never looked entirely comfortable on. JB Holmes continues to lead the way at nine under but may yet have cause to regret a double bogey on the 18th.
“I think one of the most frustrating things was I had just made a great putt on the 7th for birdie,” McIlroy added. “I did the same on three and four; I made birdies on one and two, bogeyed three and four, so I just felt like I was doing the exact same thing over again. I don’t like making the same mistake twice, and that’s what I did.”
McIlroy has only this event and the Bay Hill invitational in his schedule before going to Augusta National in April, where he will seek to complete a grand slam of major championships at the age of 25. For the time being, and by his own admission, his game is being undermined by errors.
Ryan Moore is the closest to Holmes at seven under, a shot ahead of Adam Scott. Bubba Watson and Henrik Stenson are among other notably names also in prominent positions, both at minus four.
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