For Rory McIlroy, the opening day of the Deutsche Bank Championship was a microcosm of his season — for every step forward, another step back.
It’s still hard to believe that just a year ago this week, McIlroy was on a rocket to the top of the golf world. After winning the both the Deutsche Bank and BMW Championship, the only thing separating McIlroy from the FedEx Cup championship was a disappointing Sunday round of 74 at the Tour Championship.
Still, he ended 2012 as the No. 1 player in the world, and signed a new deal with Nike that not only paid him a boatload of cash, but was expected to make him the new face of professional golf.
Of course, although we all know the struggles Rory has had this year, what I find more interesting is that McIlroy really hasn’t been that bad. He’s only missed one cut, so despite the winless record, he’s actually been more consistent in 2013 than he was last season. Why, then, has he had such a hard time getting back to the top of his game?
If anything, his first round back at TPC Boston since last year’s playoff victory was his year in a nutshell. “I’m making a lot of birdies but also making a lot of stupid little mistakes,” McIlroy said to the press after the round in which he hit 13 greens in regulation, but made five bogeys. “If I can cut those out, it’s a different story.”
So can Rory get it together, cut out those mistakes and get back into contention? He has a formidable task ahead, starting the second round seven shots behind leaders Phil Mickelson and Brian Davis. On the positive side, despite the course’s reputation for low scoring, it was just two years ago when Webb Simpson shot 69 in the opening round before his playoff victory.
Hope isn’t lost for McIlroy, and it isn’t like he’s forgotten how to play the game. It’ll be daunting, but he’s not out of this thing just yet.