Front nine confounds McIlroy at THE PLAYERS
May 09, 2015
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Rory McIlroy has played the front nine in 1 over this week at TPC Sawgrass' PLAYERS Stadium Course. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Much like at Augusta National, the front nine at TPC Sawgrass has proven perplexing to Rory McIlroy.
And much like the Masters, he has never won THE PLAYERS Championship.
He’ll have a chance Sunday after a 2-under 70 that leaves him four strokes off the lead through three rounds. But this week has again been about the ones that have gotten away from McIlroy on the front side of the golf course.
“I think a lot of holes on the front nine are very straight away, where there's a lot of doglegs on the back nine and it sort of, you can visualize shots better,” McIlroy said. “I feel on the front nine, like even holes like 2 it's, obviously you need to hit a draw there, but even 4 and 5 and 6 and 7, they're all like pretty straight holes and I sort of get up there and I've got about six shots in my head that I can hit.
"I just need to try and pick one of them and commit to them, and sometimes, of the six shots, I don't hit any of them.”
In McIlroy’s last seven rounds at TPC Sawgrass his stroke average on the front nine has been nearly five strokes higher than on the back. Last year, he tied for sixth.
During that time he has never broken par on the front and shot everything from 36 to 42. On the back, he has twice shot 31 and three times shot 33, including on Saturday when he had three birdies and no bogeys.
The first of those came on the par-5 11th, where McIlroy got up and down from a greenside bunker. He followed with a 26-footer for birdie on the par-3 13th and had a look at eagle from 15 feet on the par-5 16th before settling for a tap-in birdie.
The bigger problem Sunday might be the number of players he has to leapfrog. Though he is within four strokes, he is tied for 17th.
“It seems like half of the TOUR has a chance to win this thing,” McIlroy said. “They're just so bunched. ... I need to shoot something in the mid- to low 60s to realistically have a chance.”
He, of course, can’t afford another slow start.
Rory McIlroy’s sloppy flop on No. 9 at THE PLAYERS