Very few courses have McIlroy’s number, but based on his track record at TPC Sawgrass, it’s clear the course is winning the head-to-head battle.
With a 4-over 76 on Friday, he’s now failed to break par in six rounds at the Players Championship — a staggering figure when you look at the success he’s had abroad in the last year-plus. But as the 23-year-old mentioned on Thursday, there’s something about the course he can’t figure out.
“It doesn’t,” McIlroy said, when asked if the course suited his eye. “It’s very tricky. I find it very tricky. I really have to think about what I’m hitting off the tee. Second shots and stuff are fine, it’s just tee shots for me that I struggle with.”
There’s no question TPC Sawgrass doesn’t suit his eye. Over the last two days, McIlroy managed to hit only 55 percent of his greens in regulation (tied for 116th in the field), and averaged 1.8 putts per GIR. Numbers can sometimes skew the story, but in this case, it’s clear the course has his number — to the point where you almost wonder if he’d like to take back his earlier comments about skipping last year’s event being a mistake.
But knowing McIlroy and the kind of competitor he is, I’m guessing he won’t let a couple poor starts deter him from coming back in the future. How do I know this? Because the guy made a promise, during his post-round press conference, that he’d come back in the future.
Now, I’m not sure if that verbal promise is binding, but considering PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has a J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School, he may want to get that in writing before McIlroy departs the Ponte Vedra Beach compound.