Archive for April, 2011

For the second time in as many weeks, Rory McIllroy has snatched capitulation from the jaws of victory.

The young Irishman, you will recall if you were anywhere near a newspaper, web site or TV set recently, led the Masters by four strokes entering the final round only to come up  short. A succession of missed putts and wayward drives and a round of 80 handed the green jacket to South African Charl Schwartzel.

Soon after leaving behind the azaleas of the Augusta National, McIllroy ventured to Malaysia to begin the rehab.

Already laden down with emotional baggage, he arrives in Kuala Lumpur minus his golf clubs.

Cue the Evening Standard to run a front page picture story under the headline: ‘What’s Rory lost this time?’

The full story featured on page three under the title ‘Things go from bag to worse as McIllroy loses golf clubs after Masters meltdown’.

It went on … ‘First he lost his nerve in front of a global audience of millions, squandering the chance of a US Masters title’ the story ran. ‘Today life got even worse for McIllroy as he stepped off the long-haul flight only to be told his prized golf clubs had been lost in transit’.

The clubs eventually turned up and enabled McIllroy set about establishing a four-shot lead as the final round unfolded. McIlroy was still in contention after three birdies in four holes from the eighth, but his progress was halted when he three-putted for a double bogey at the 12th.

However, he responded with three further birdies to keep alive hopes of forcing a play-off with Matteo Manassero, only for a bogey at the 18th to end his victory prospects.

McIllroy’s exploits prompted headlines containing the phrases ‘more misery’, ‘another late collapse’, ‘putting betrays McIllroy again’ and ‘McIllroy let another chance slip’.

The truth is McIllroy will have to live with those headlines and those comparisons to Augusta for quite a while yet. Until he exorcises the demons with a major title one suspects.

The Irishman’s unraveling has inevitably drawn comparisons with Greg Norman’s deck chair moment at the Masters in 1996.

In one of the worst meltdowns in majors history, Norman carried a six-stroke cushion into the final round and lost the tournament to Nick Faldo by five strokes, shooting a Sunday 78 to Faldo’s 67.

The story goes that Norman’s daughter Morgan-Leigh, 13 at the time, passed by a  graveyard on the way to Augusta on the final morning. She held her breath, closed her eyes and prayed. When your dad is Greg Norman sometimes divine intervention is on the menu on Sundays. Her prayers went unanswered.

The final word on the matter goes to McIllroy himself. “The Masters was a little speed bump but no more than that. I will have lots of other chances to win majors.” At just 21 years of age, he may well be right.


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