What I'll Remember About 2013: McIlroy struggles to find his game

Interview: Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy talks about his struggles during the Deutsche Bank Championship.
November 26, 2013
By Ryan Smithson, PGATOUR.COM

PGATOUR.COM asked its staffers and writers what they will remember about the 2013 season. For the archived list of essays and a complete review of the season, click here.

In 2013, Rory McIlroy proved that he's not a robot, even though he played against one on TV.


That's the irony of his year. It was a four-minute YouTube video in June, showing a smiling, laughing McIlroy in a spot promoting the European Tour, playing against something that is a polar opposite of McIlroy himself.

McIlroy's game is not about analytics or mechanics. He's the ultimate feel player in a game loaded with feel players, and when he's off, he can make some big numbers. He didn't win a tournament in 2013, and realistically, he never came close.

Oh, he finished second once, but that was his only finish in the top five in 16 tries. This came after a staggering 2012 season in which he finished in the top five eight times.

Yes, he changed equipment after the 2012 season, but it goes a lot deeper than that. He looked rusty from the start, and by the time the TOUR hit The Honda Classic, his game was a mess. The Honda Classic, played right near his new home in South Florida, was supposed to be HIS week. He was the defending champ, still ranked No. 1 in the world, but after an ugly 7 over start after eight holes in the second round he walked off the course. The very next week, at the no-cut World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, he finished with a 65 that gave him a top-10 finish.

That basically defined his year. When his swing felt OK, he looked more like himself and it took pressure off his putting, a skill that was exposed when his swing was off.

Even when he's playing his best, McIlroy is always going to be on the hook for some big numbers and wild shots. He simply made a lot more of them in 2013, and his slide was the surprise of the year.

The good news? He already looks a lot better early in the 2013-14 season. If he can avoid the distractions that plagued him in 2013, he will avoid the bogeys that invariably come along with them.