Rory (78) unequivocally worse on Fridays than other rounds


Apparently, there is no such thing as “TGIF” for Rory McIlroy.

The differential between McIlroy’s second-round scoring average and that of other rounds has been staggering so far this year – and it only became more glaring at the Scottish Open on Friday.

Following an opening-round 64, McIlroy posted a 7-over 78 to drop from sole possession of the lead to well off the first page of the leaderboard. His 64th stroke on Friday was a tee shot on the 15th hole. One day after posting eight birdies and just a single bogey, he had only one birdie and seven scores of bogey or worse.

We’re past the point of a developing pattern and well into an advanced trend.

Consider these numbers:

• In 13 worldwide stroke-play starts this year, McIlroy has fared worse in the second round than the opener on 10 occasions.

• Of those 10 jumps in score from Thursday to Friday, nine were increases of at least three strokes.

• His 14-stroke differential this week isn’t even his largest in the past month. That came at the Memorial Tournament, where he followed an opening 63 with a 78 the next day.

• He’s taken a total of 886 strokes in first rounds this year. The number increases to 939 in second rounds.

• He is 51 under par in first rounds and 9 over par in second rounds.

• And last but not least, his scoring average is 68.15 on Thursdays and 72.23 on Fridays.

Tournament      First Round Second Round Differential
Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship                          70  67  -3
Omega Dubai Desert Classic                                          63  70  +7
Honda Classic  63  66  +3
WGC-Cadillac Championship                                         70  74  +4
Shell Houston Open  70  71  +1
Masters Tournament                                                       71  77  +6
Wells Fargo Championship  69  76  +7
The Players Championship                                             70  74  +4
BMW PGA Championship  68  71  +3
Memorial Tournament                                                    63  78  +15
U.S. Open  71  68  -3
Irish Open  74  69  -5
Scottish Open  64  78  +14

Of course, it’s one thing to note a problem and another altogether to find both a reason for it and a solution.

We can point to off-course issues – a wedding cancellation and a lawsuit against his former management team amongst them – but that doesn’t explain why his poor play has been largely confined to Fridays. We can contest that it’s due to a lack of mental focus, but we’ll find the same issue with that theory.

For his part, McIlroy himself doesn’t seem to have an answer, either.

Looking back at his comments after some of those ugly second rounds this year, there are hardly any clues regarding his freaky Fridays. But there was one comment following that second-round 74 at The Players Championship which might be a hint:

“I’ve struggled to grind.”

It might sound too simplistic an answer, but it does serve as an explanation.

When things are going his way, when McIlroy is driving it straight and long, when he’s getting the putts to drop, he owns an innate ability to step on the gas pedal and make birdies in bunches.

When things aren’t going his way, though, when he’s missing fairways and greens, when he’s burning edges with his putts, he hasn’t been able to adjust and grind out pars when necessary.

As every professional golfer – McIlroy included – understands, the ability to stop the bleeding is just as important in tournament play as going super low.

So far this year, he’s been able to accomplish just one of those.

Once again this week, he started out with a super-low opening round. And once again, he backed it up with an inability to stop the bleeding.