If Rory McIlroy has been anything during his career in the spotlight (other than being one of the best golfers of the current generation), he has been honest.
With himself and everyone else.
It is an admirable trait that at times has caused him some grief. You might recall his candor while explaining his reasons for skipping the Olympic Games ruffling a few feathers.
Whether you agree with what he has to say or not, honesty is something we all should appreciate, not ridicule, because there are not enough honest athletes in this generation of bland political correctness.
In advance of this week’s British Open at Royal Birkdale, McIlroy enters one of the most important tournaments of the year with his game in dodgy form, having missed the cut at the Irish Open and Scottish Open the past two weeks.
Yet McIlroy continues to insist he is “close’’ to being in winning form. He knows what it sounds like, and he has been almost apologetic about it.
“It’s hard to sit up here and stand in front of a camera every single time and say to you guys, ‘It’s close,’ because I sound a bit like a broken record after a few weeks,’’ McIlroy said last week. “But really, it’s not far away. I’m positive about it. I’m excited about my game. I feel like I’m doing a lot of good things.
“It’s just putting it all together — not just for one day but for four days, and not just for four days, to do it week in and week out.’’
Those words from McIlroy, who won the 2014 British Open and owns four Grand Slam titles, came before he failed to make the cut at the Scottish, where he faltered in the second round with a 1-under-par 71 leaving him one shot on the wrong side of the cut line.
When he left Dundonald Links on Friday, McIlroy was 10 shots off the lead after two days, thanks to some poor wedge play and worse putting. It was the third missed cut in the past four tournaments for the No. 4 player in the world.
“Rory keeps telling us he’s almost there,’’ Ian Baker-Finch, the 1991 Open winner at Birkdale and current CBS analyst, told The Post. “With the Birkdale greens a little bit slower, that might help him. There might not be as much pressure on his putting as there is at the other majors.’’
After missing the Scottish Open cut, McIlroy said he is “just waiting for something, some sort of spark, just something to go right.’’
“The last couple of weeks haven’t been like that,’’ he said. “I’ve just got to keep plugging away and hopefully it turns around next week. I’d be much more worried if I went out there and shot a couple of 76s and I’m nowhere near trying to make the cut or whatever.
“I feel like I’m more than capable of going down [to Birkdale] and shooting a couple of even pars or shooting something in the 60s and getting myself into contention.”
It was difficult to tell whether or not McIlroy simply was trying to talk himself into that or if he really believes it.
There are excuses in place for the former No. 1 ranked player in the world, who is without a win in 2017. He had a rib injury that has disrupted his schedule after the Masters, he had an equipment change, and he got married.
McIlroy, however, is not an excuse maker.
“I think it’s fair to say I’m trying to stay patient, but it’s proving difficult,” he said. “It always has been for me. Because look, I feel like I am good enough to win these tournaments, and I’ve shown that before. And as I keep saying it, I don’t feel like my game is that far away.
“There is still plenty of time to salvage the season. But I’d rather see that happen sooner, rather than later.”
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