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Friday, June 28, 2013

"I'm Feeling a Bit Lost at the Moment..."

That's what Rory said when he finished his 2-over round at the Irish Open on Thursday. Here's the full quote as James Corrigan reported it for the UK Telegraph:
"I’m feeling a bit lost at the moment," McIlroy said. "Off the tee I'm missing it left and right and it’s difficult when you stand there not knowing that one side is out of play. I don’t know if it’s a case of playing through it or grinding it out in practice."
And it appears that the golf media as a whole is growing concerned about this turn of events. It was a topic for the Grey Goose 19th Hole folks on GC. (Yani Tseng was discussed as well.) On the show they seemed to have decided that Padraig Harrington was right when he said Rory had a lot of Phil in him. The implication was that Rory was going to be a great player -- he just wasn't going to be a consistent performer.

Corrigan further quoted Rory:
"It’s tough when you have a rounds like this and, when you’d thought you were getting somewhere, all of a sudden you’re stopped in your tracks and you’ve got to reassess everything again." 
Of course, this is no big news to weekend golfers, is it? It's something all of us have to deal with from time to time, even if the pros think they should be exempt.

It has something to do with being human. It's not enough that old Murphy works with the USGA and R&A, making sure that if anything goes wrong... there's a penalty for that. How are golfers -- whether they do this for a living or not -- supposed to deal with the volatile nature of a golf swing?

It seems likely to me that Rory simply hasn't identified the real problem behind what some of us call his "Army swing" (left, right, left, right, left, right...). Without knowing the true cause of the problem, you don't know if it CAN be played through. If you don't know what's wrong, how can you grind it out in practice?

I have a theory: Players have swing problems from time to time. They go out and have a bad round. They decide to fix the problem, so they go hit balls until their fingers bleed and they can hit the ball where they're aiming.

But they misunderstood the problem. They thought they had fallen into a swing flaw when they merely had a day when their body didn't work normally. Like maybe their back is a bit stiffer than normal today, so they didn't turn their shoulders quite as fully as normal, so their swing plane was a bit different from normal.

What should they have done? Maybe, instead of trying to fix the problem after the round -- what good will THAT do? They aren't going to play golf again until tomorrow -- maybe they should wait until the next day's warmup and see what the ball is doing THAT day. Perhaps the problem is gone; perhaps it's a different problem. At any rate, they find a fix BEFORE they go out to play instead of AFTER they finish playing.

I suspect this is why players often hit stretches where a perfectly good swing suddenly seems to be different everyday. Instead of dealing with today's problem, they dealt with yesterday's problem... which gives them absolutely NO help with today's problem.

Our swings are like us, a little different everyday. I suspect Rory's feeling lost because he expects his swing to be a machine when he's just a garden variety human. Perhaps he -- and the rest of us -- would have fewer swing problems if we could be satisfied with something less than inhuman perfection.

As for Rory, I suspect in time he'll find his swing is where it's always been. Maybe he just needs to settle for a little less perfection for a while, just set his goals a little lower... like, say, finding a single shot shape, a "go to" shot, that he can predict for this round, today.

It's ok to be human, Rory. Trust me.

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