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The Tour Report

    McIlroy: Friday struggles play mind games

  • Rory McIlroy is a two-time major champion. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Rory McIlroy is a two-time major champion. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

HOYLAKE, England -- It happened again last week.

Rory McIlroy opened with a 64 that left him leading the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open by one stroke. But he struggled on Friday, shooting a 78, and needed two more rounds in the 60s just to finish in a tie for 14th.

The young Northern Irishman has had similar struggles on the PGA TOUR this year. In 10 starts, he's only shot in the 60s in the second round twice -- while shooting 74 or higher five times, including at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance where a 63 on Thursday had staked him to a three-stroke lead lead.

On Tuesday before he played a practice round at Royal Liverpool, McIlroy acknowledged his second-round struggles had become a recurring problem.

"One that I'd like to try to stop this week," he said firmly.

In retrospect, McIlroy acknowledged, the issue might be as much mental as physical.

"I may be putting a bit too much pressure on myself, going out on Fridays and trying to back up a score," McIlroy said. "I have no problem shooting a low one on Thursday. There should be no reason I have any problem shooting a lot one on Friday.

"I think I just got into my head."

Maybe McIlroy just needs to turn back the calendar and pretend it's Thursday. At the very least, getting off to a good start at Hoylake on what is expected to be a very rainy Friday will be important.

McIlroy's Friday problems have generally lasted for several holes, or maybe an entire nine, while he plays relatively solidly the rest of the round. So concentration -- or, the lack thereof -- may be part of the problem and patience the key.

Take the second round at the BMW Championship, which McIlroy went on to win, earlier this year for example. He shot 39 on the front nine Tuesday but fought back and recovered with a closing 32 to finish the day 1 under. A 66 in the final round then enabled McIlroy to close a seven-stroke gap and win.

"I think it's easier to eliminate some of the bad stuff than it is to try to find some of the good stuff because the good stuff is in there, obviously, with some of the scores that I'm shooting," McIlroy said.

"I just need to keep it a little tighter when things aren't 100 percent on the golf course."