Rory McIlroy's no good, very bad 2013 season continued on Thursday at the Irish Open, where he told reporters he was "feeling a bit lost" after an opening-round 74. After rising to world No. 1 on the strength of his second major championship and a dominant FedExCup run, McIlroy debuted in 2013 in Abu Dhabi with a fresh Nike contract and the promise of another multi-win season. But at the midpoint of the 2013 calendar, McIlroy has yet to contend at majors or pick up a win and has lost his grip on the No. 1 ranking.
The first-round 74 at Carton House Golf Club puts Rory currently in a tie for 98th place at 2-over par. More importantly, it prompted further additional public reflection on the troublesome state of his game in 2013 (via Ryan Ballengee of GolfNewsNet):
"At the moment, no aspects of my game are strong and I'm just feeling a bit lost at the moment," McIlroy said. "It feels good on the range and I can hit all the shots but when I get out on the course it really does not seem to be there.
"The game is just not coming easy to me at the moment and while I was struggling at this point last year," he said, "I was able to turn the corner in the middle of the summer and have a great end to my season."
Ballengee also noted that Rory expounded on the two-way miss off the tee that's plagued him all year, stating he was of "two minds" every time he's setting up for a tee shot. That's ... not good.
There are also two minds about this kind of openness when discussing your struggles. It's pretty clear that Rory's game is out of sorts, but there will be those who criticize him, one of the biggest stars in the world, for appearing so flabbergasted publicly -- a wall Tiger Woods rarely takes down.
But McIlroy, who spent the beginning of the week watching Caroline Wozniacki at Wimbledon, felt comfortable discussing the ugly state of his swing on Irish soil. It's certainly a better approach than walking off the course and blowing off everyone on your way out of town, as he did during his most ignominious moment of the season -- the withdrawal at the Honda Classic.
If things continue this way on Friday, both Rory and Wozniacki, who lost in the second round at Wimbledon, will have the weekend free to spend together. As McIlroy noted, there's still time to turn it around and he's got the talent to do so -- there's just little evidence of any improvement or consistency that would point to such a turnaround any time soon. He has the ability to play well for four days and win a tournament out of nowhere, but at a major, those chances are even more remote, given the conditions that he'll face at Muirfield and Oak Hill. After this event, he's got two more weeks of prep before the Open Championship, an event where he's not played particularly well in conditions he's said are not preferable for his game. With Tiger injured and Rory "lost," it could be an ugly week for the Nike duo in their next appearance.