Rory McIlroy has only positive memories when looking back on last year’s T-5 finish at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, a showing that preceded a PGA Championship victory and two wins in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
He returns to Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, this week hoping for similar results.
“Hopefully those positive memories can see me through and I can start to play the golf that I know that I can,” McIlroy, who is coming off a missed cut at the Open Championship at Muirfield.
After shooting 79 in the first round at Muirfield, McIlroy described himself as “unconscious” and “brain dead.” He would miss the cut after a second-round 75. Two weeks later, he was more positive.
“I was sitting up here this time last year probably not feeling as if my game was in great shape,” said McIlroy, who entered last year’s Bridgestone coming off a T-60 finish at the Open Championship and a missed cut at the U.S. Open. He had also missed the cut at the Players Championship and placed T-40 at Masters earlier in the year.
“I’m sitting up here this year a lot more positive. So that’s a great sign.”
McIlroy said he’s “become a little bit too emotionally involved” with golf in recent months. And it’s gotten him too excited at times. To help remedy his mental state, he went home to Northern Ireland after the Open and played golf with some friends.
“It’s nice to go out and play for the sake of playing . . . just go out, and play and enjoy some courses that I played growing up,” McIlroy said.
“It makes you realize why you play the game. It makes you realize why you started, because you love the game. And when you were younger, you’d sort of do anything you could to sort of get out on the golf course.”
After a couples weeks getting reacquainted with the passion he had for the game as a kid, he hopes to now get reacquainted with contending in a tournament.
“There’s nothing quite like getting into contention and knowing how that feels,” said McIlroy, who then referenced Phil Mickelson’s victories at the Scottish Open and Open Championship in successive weeks.
McIlroy hasn’t felt that feeling in a while, but if last year was any indication, it only takes one week to get things rolling again.