McIlroy ignores talk, focuses on getting better

Rory McIlroy hadn't played Valhalla prior to Tuesday's practice round.
Rory McIlroy hadn't played Valhalla prior to Tuesday's practice round. ( Associated Press )

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – To a collective groan from golf journalists everywhere, forgive Rory McIlroy if he doesn't pay much attention to what is written about him.

Not the struggling McIlroy of early 2013, or even the on-fire McIlroy of mid-2014.

"I don't think it is productive at all to read anything about yourself," said McIlroy.

And despite winning the 2014 Open Championship in dominating fashion and using a Sunday comeback to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, McIlroy isn't getting ahead of himself. He doesn't want to hear the "Rory Era" talks that he admits that he's heard; instead, he's focused on his next shot.

"Sometimes I feel that people are too quick to jump to conclusions and jump on the bandwagon and jump on certain things," said McIlroy.

"But I can't read too much into it. I just need to continue to practice hard and play well, and if I do that, then you know, that's all I can do and try not to read too much of the stuff that's being written, because if you read everything that was being written, I'd turn up at the first tee on Thursday thinking I'd already won the tournament."

He'll be flying a bit more blind than usual this Thursday when he opens the PGA Championship alongside Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer at 1:45 p.m. EDT. He gave himself Monday off and has only seen Valhalla in watching the 2000 PGA Championship and 2008 Ryder Cup.

"I felt like I needed (the day off on Monday), just to recharge a little bit. I think, as you said, emotionally and mental, it's more fatiguing after you win tournaments than it is physically. So just to give your brain and give your head a day just to sort of rest is a good thing and get back into it," said McIlroy.

"I don't know much about the golf course but from people that have spoken to me and guys in the locker room, it will suit my game style pretty well. I know it's going to be a long golf course and there's going to be a lot of drivers off tees and going to have to drive the ball well. I feel like I've driven the ball very well the last few weeks and hopefully I'll continue to do that."

McIlroy's driver has been lethal this summer, including Sunday when he dissected Firestone off the tee, leading to 16 greens in regulation. He's third on the PGA Tour in driving distance this season (310.3 yards), although he's just 116th in driving accuracy. He's second in overall scoring average with a 69.057, while T-2 with eight top-10 finishes on the season.

The Ulsterman pointed to a newfound thought process on the course that has led to more consistency – and victories.

"I think what's going through my head when I approach each shot is just that shot," said McIlroy. "That's what I feel – when I'm mentally at my best on the golf course, that's what it is. It's approaching every shot as if that's the only shot you're going to play that day, you know, and putting everything into that and not getting ahead of yourself, thinking about your score or thinking about where you are in the tournament or on the leaderboard."

As of late, McIlroy's name has been pretty easy to find.

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