With Rory McIlroy dropping to third in the latest edition of the world rankings following his missed cut at Muirfield, the most recent in a string of disappointing finishes in 2013, many have wondered when the Ulsterman might again display the form that brought him a pair of major titles. According to 2014 European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, though, you need only look back to last season for an example of just how quickly things can change.
'Everybody was saying Rory was playing rubbish (after Lytham),' McGinley told Sky Sports, referencing McIlroy's T-60 finish at the 2012 British Open. 'A month later, he went to the U.S. PGA and won by eight.'
While McIlroy rebounded from a disappointing mid-season stretch last year to claim the season's fourth major and a pair of FedEx Cup playoff events, the depths to which his game appears to have fallen this season are much greater. His missed the cut at The Irish Open in his start prior to the British, hasn't recorded a top-10 finish since The Players Championship and after winning five times in 2012, his runner-up result at the Valero Texas Open remains his only legitimate title contention in 2013. No player currently in the top 25 in the world has accrued fewer world ranking points in 2013 than the 24-year-old's total of 66.23.
According to McGinley, McIlroy may benefit from some introspection and self-evaluation as he continues to try to find his way on the course in the wake of drastic equipment changes to begin the year.
'At 46 years of age, one of the lessons I've learned is that you have to know who you are and play to your strength, not your weakness,' he noted. 'Looking back, when I was 24, I wish I got to know myself better. That would have helped my golf.'
Before he defends his PGA title at Oak Hill, McIlroy is expected to tee it up next week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Ultimately, the man who will lead the European squad at Gleneagles next fall expects the Ulsterman to recapture the form that took him to the top of the world rankings sooner rather than later.
'Rory is not arrogant. He has a lot of common sense and is willing to listen,' added McGinley. 'He will learn and I have no doubt he will come back.'