• US Open

McIlroy: I need to curb my enthusiasm

ESPN staff
June 16, 2014
Rory McIlroy took advice from Jack Nicklaus ahead of the US Open © Getty Images

Rory McIlroy says he needs to curb his enthusiasm to prevent the disastrous nine-hole runs which have been wrecking his major hopes.

McIlroy finished six-over-par and tied for 26th at the US Open, 15 strokes off winner Martin Kaymer, after Sunday's final round in North Carolina.

The Ulsterman acknowledged he is prone to nine-hole lapses and, having met with Jack Nicklaus prior to proceedings at Pinehurst, said he must address the issue if he is to achieve further success.

"I just need to curb my enthusiasm at times," McIlroy told the Guardian. "You're standing with a seven-iron in your hand on that fifth hole, for example, and know that actually missing the green short right isn't a bad shot. Instead of trying to hit the perfect shot, landing it in the middle of the green.

"It might be a little bit to do with once I get on a run, I'm maybe trying a little too hard to get out of it and that compounds the issue. I need to figure out these nine holes of golf where instead of it being four over or five over, I can maybe be one or two over, just limiting the damage a little bit."

McIlroy's recent trend of scoring 40-plus in nine-hole spells have seen him vie for a top 10 finish rather than a tournament title. Two weeks before his chat with the 'Golden Bear', McIlroy started the Nicklaus Memorial Tournament with a 63 on Thursday only to shoot 78 on Friday, which included a front-nine 43.

During their two-hour chat in North Palm Beach, McIlroy revealed Nicklaus had said to him: "'How the hell can you shoot 63 and then 78?'"

It is a worrying issue that has blighted McIlroy since his 2011 Masters meltdown on the back nine at Augusta National, where he dropped six shots in three holes to let the green jacket slip through his grasp. At this year's Masters, McIlroy shot a second round of 77 - including a back nine score of 40 - which left his title hopes in tatters once again.

And on Pinehurst's No.2 course on Saturday, while in touch with the leaders, McIlroy was one-under for his third round at the turn before he completed his back nine in 40.

"There's just been runs of holes in tournaments where I haven't played so well," McIlroy said. "I have shot four or five over in the space of nine holes, and that's really just derailed my tournament."

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