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Rory McIlroy declares himself ‘brain dead’ on opening day at Muirfield

Rory McIlroy on the opening day at Muirfield
Rory McIlroy on the opening day at Muirfield

RORY McIlroy  described himself as “brain dead” as he carded an eight-over-par 79 on day one of the Open at Muirfield, his worst score of the year relative to par.

The second day of the tournament is under way, and McIlroy began is task of redeeming his efforts from yesterday at his scheduled tee-off time at 2.45pm.

As it stands today, he is currently tied for 107th place after a bogey on the third hole.

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The 24-year-old has had a poor season so far, failing to contend in the first two majors of the year, only three finishes in the top 10 and is yet to win in 2013. Now he is also facing a weekend off from the third major of the year.

McIlroy has been unable to achieve the form he struck last season; he secured the second major victory of his career by a record eight shots at the PGA Championship and topped both the European and PGA Tour money lists with five victories in 2012.

He also ended the year as world number one; a position he can now only aspire to regain from his current ranking as world number two.

Switching to Nike equipment in January, in a multi-million dollar deal, and a split with his management company have been identified as the prime factors contributing to his troubled season.

Having missed the cut in the Irish Open at Carton House last month after failing to find his form, the 2011 US Open Champion admitted he was struggling with the mental aspect of the game.

He said that he was a “little lost” with his game, and yesterday’s two double-bogey, six-bogey, two-birdie round at Muirfield confirmed this.

“I don’t know what you can do,” McIlroy said. “You’ve just got to try and play your way out of it. But it’s nothing to do with technique. It’s all mental out there. And then I just need to concentrate, obviously. But sometimes I feel like I’m walking around out there and I’m unconscious.

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“I just need to try to think more. I’m trying to focus and trying to concentrate. But, yeah, I can’t really fathom it at the minute, and it’s hard to stand up here and tell you guys what’s really wrong.”

McIlroy’s failure to overcome the obstacles he is facing in his mental game meant that on the opening day his   game plan fell apart, only finding five of 14 fairways off the tee, hitting 10 of 18 greens and taking 34 putts.

Of the opening three pars, he said “I felt like I got off to a decent start. Gave myself a couple of chances early on, made a couple of silly mental errors on four and five, dropped shots there. Made a great two on seven to get it back, had a chance to get it back to even par on nine.”

Problems began to surface on the back nine, where “silly mental errors” left the Holywood golfer with double bogeys at 12 and 15, where he hit an 80-foot putt across the green, past the hole and into a bunker on the other side.

Bogeys at 10, 11 and finishing with two more at 17 and 18 meant that McIlroy matched the 79 he carded in the third round of the Masters in April.

“Again, that’s just thoughtless,” he said. “It’s just so brain dead. Seriously, I feel like I’ve been walking around out there like that for the last couple of months. I’m trying to get out of it. I just don’t quite know why.

“It’s a very alien feeling, it’s something I’ve never felt before.”

McIlroy divulged that in order to rediscover his ability to focus on the course, he would consider meeting with Dr Bob Rotella, renowned sports psychologist.

“I’ve worked with Bob before a little bit. And, yeah, it could be beneficial to see someone like that again, we’ll see. I’m definitely under-thinking on the golf course, maybe over-thinking it off of it.”

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Nemesha Balasundaram
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Nemesha Balasundaram is a Reporter with The Irish Post. Follow her on Twitter @nemeshaB

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