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What next for Rory McIlroy? How he plans to prepare for The Masters after missed cut at The Players | Golf News

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Rory McIlroy missed the cut by three shots at The Players; World No 3 carded rounds of 76 and 73 at TPC Sawgrass and will only play the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between now and his latest Grand Slam bid at The Masters next month

Last Updated: 11/03/23 6:00pm


Rory McIlroy says he is 'ready to get back to being a golfer' after his hopes of a return to world No 1 at The Players were dashed with a missed cut at TPC Sawgrass

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Rory McIlroy says he is ‘ready to get back to being a golfer’ after his hopes of a return to world No 1 at The Players were dashed with a missed cut at TPC Sawgrass

Rory McIlroy says he is ‘ready to get back to being a golfer’ after his hopes of a return to world No 1 at The Players were dashed with a missed cut at TPC Sawgrass

Rory McIlroy insists he is ready to get back to ‘being purely a golfer’ and preparing for his latest Grand Slam bid at The Masters after suffering a shock early exit at The Players.

McIlroy, who went into the PGA Tour’s flagship event with a chance of leapfrogging Jon Rahm as world No 1, missed the cut by three strokes after rounds of 76 and 73 at TPC Sawgrass.

The 2019 Players champion has served as an unofficial spokesperson for golf’s traditional tours throughout the sport’s ongoing battle with LIV, with McIlroy also attending lengthy meetings and helping to promote the benefits of the PGA Tour’s 2024 schedule changes to its membership.

McIlroy claims the emergence of LIV Golf has caused the PGA Tour to rethink its strategy and explains why the changes could benefit the whole of professional golf

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McIlroy claims the emergence of LIV Golf has caused the PGA Tour to rethink its strategy and explains why the changes could benefit the whole of professional golf

McIlroy claims the emergence of LIV Golf has caused the PGA Tour to rethink its strategy and explains why the changes could benefit the whole of professional golf

The PGA Tour confirmed this month that eight designated ‘no-cut’ events will feature next year, with reduced 70-78 player fields and elevated, with McIlroy hoping that more time can now be focused on his own performance.

“I’d love to get back to being a golfer,” McIlroy admitted after his missed cut. “Honestly, it’s been a busy sort of six or eight months. As I said at the start of the week, everything has sort of been announced now, and the wheels have been put in motion, so it should obviously quieten down from here.

McIlroy missed the cut at The Players for the sixth time in his career

McIlroy missed the cut at The Players for the sixth time in his career

“It’s just the time management. The golf out here, that’s fine, but it’s just more the time at home to make sure you’re getting prepared, to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to be ready once you show up to these weeks.

“That’s where I’ve maybe sacrificed a little bit of time with some of this other stuff. As I said, I’m ready to get back to being purely a golfer.”

McIlroy struggled to a four-over-par 76 during the first round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass

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McIlroy struggled to a four-over-par 76 during the first round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass

McIlroy struggled to a four-over-par 76 during the first round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass

What went wrong for McIlroy?

McIlroy endured an erratic day off the tee and a cold putter on the opening day – where he fell 12 strokes off the lead – and admitted post-round he was taking time to adjust to a new driver in the bag.

He also struggled with his driver during the Genesis Invitational last month and in the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, although improved in his second round at The Players and didn’t have too many general concerns about his game.

McIlroy claims some members of the PGA Tour are angry at changes announced this month

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McIlroy claims some members of the PGA Tour are angry at changes announced this month

McIlroy claims some members of the PGA Tour are angry at changes announced this month

“Just very blah,” McIlroy said about his performance. “I guess the course, you just have to be really on to play well here. If you’re a little off, it definitely magnifies where you are off. It’s a bit of an enigma.

“Some years I come here, and like it feels easier than others. It’s just a tricky golf course, and you don’t hit fairways and you’ve got your work cut out for you.

McIlroy made a double-bogey on the par four sixth hole during the second round of The Players Championship after de-greening his birdie putt

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McIlroy made a double-bogey on the par four sixth hole during the second round of The Players Championship after de-greening his birdie putt

McIlroy made a double-bogey on the par four sixth hole during the second round of The Players Championship after de-greening his birdie putt

“I actually don’t feel like I’m playing that badly at all. A few miscues here and there, just a little untidy here and there. But hit the ball OK. As I said, this course, if you’re a little off, definitely just magnifies where you are.”

Where will McIlroy play next?

McIlroy is not scheduled to play in another stroke play event now until The Masters next month, with his only appearance set to be the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from March 22-26.

The four-time major champion reached at least the semi-finals three times in his previous 12 appearances, including victory in the 2015 contest, although failed to progress from the group stage in his last start there in 2021.

McIlroy missed the five-day event in 2022 to take two tournaments off after The Players, electing to play the Valero Texas Open the week before the opening men’s major of the year instead, although will now return to his traditional pre-Masters schedule.

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When asked about whether he would consider adding an extra event, McIlroy – who will go and practice at Augusta next week – said: “Wasn’t particularly fond of that [Texas Open] last year, so no, it’s just the Match Play.”

McIlroy’s Grand Slam hopes

The 33-year-old will arrive at Augusta National as one of the pre-tournament favourites, a year on from finishing second to Scottie Scheffler, with McIlroy having another opportunity to complete the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy produced a majestic final-round 64 at The Masters last April

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McIlroy produced a majestic final-round 64 at The Masters last April

McIlroy produced a majestic final-round 64 at The Masters last April

McIlroy’s runner-up finish was his seventh top-10 at The Masters without securing an elusive victory, while his focus over the next month is all about being ready for his latest attempt at major history.

“Making sure my game is in shape for Augusta,” McIlroy said about his plan. “Making sure that I’ve got all the shots. Making sure that I familiarise myself with the golf course again and go up there for a couple of days.

“From now all the way until the start of April, it’s really just all about getting ready for Augusta.”

McIlroy opened up the 2023 Players Championship with a nightmare double bogey on his first hole at TPC Sawgrass

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McIlroy opened up the 2023 Players Championship with a nightmare double bogey on his first hole at TPC Sawgrass

McIlroy opened up the 2023 Players Championship with a nightmare double bogey on his first hole at TPC Sawgrass

Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley believes he is in a stronger position than ever to secure a long-awaited fifth major title and become just the sixth male player in the modern era to complete the Grand Slam.

“I hope there’s a bit of rest coming between now and Augusta,” McGinley told Golf Channel. “He is on the verge of entering The Masters with a stronger chance of completing the Grand Slam than he has for 10 years.

“I think he’s a better player now than he has been the last 10 years and I think he’s more equipped, from being a better putter to being better psychologically. He’s a better golfer and more experienced than he has been ever heading into The Masters.”

Watch Rory McIlroy in action at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from March 22-26 and The Masters from April 6-9, exclusively live on Sky Sports.





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