Rory McIlroy has outlined the fresh approach that he hopes will help him to end his major championship drought at this week’s US Open.
The 32-year-old arrives at Torrey Pines for the third men’s major of the year in somewhat indifferent form. He ended an 18-month winless drought at the Wells Fargo Championship in May but his results either side of that victory make for less than impressive reading.
He missed the cut at both the Masters and the PLAYERS Championship, made an early exit from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and was a non-factor at both the US PGA and the Memorial, finishing T49 and T18 in those two events respectively.
With the most recent of his four major titles coming almost seven years ago, fans are, understandably, wondering how the Northern Irishman will turn his fortunes around in the game’s biggest events.
Luckily for them, their man has a plan.
Asked how he plans to take the pressure off himself, McIlroy said: “I guess by being indifferent. Not by not caring, but by not putting myself under pressure that I have to care, I guess is the right way to do it. If I went out and played this golf course any other week, you play free, and it's just the same thing.
“You just have to be able to swing with that freedom, and that's sort of what I'm trying to get back to.
“There's no surprise that if I do have, say, not a great first day that I'm able to play well the rest of the tournament because that does free you up. It's like, okay, well, the bad one's out of the way, and now I can just sort of freewheel. It's just a matter of freewheeling from the Thursday and not the Friday.”
McIlroy also believes that his game is in a much better place than it has been at any other point this season, particularly with swing changes he has been working on with Pete Cowen are starting to bear fruit.
“At Augusta, I was still in the middle of a transition of stuck in between what I was trying to do in my swing, and it wasn't a great week,” he admitted. “Kiawah, I felt like I went into the week playing pretty well but I struggled on the left-to-right winds there.
“Since then, I've changed my driver setup a little bit, and I feel a lot more comfortable with that.
“If I'd have played the par-5s the same way that Phil played them at Kiawah, I'd have won the golf tournament. I just played the par-5s so badly. But every time you play a tournament, you learn something, and you try to put that into practice the next week.
“I won a tournament four or five weeks ago, so it's there. It's golf at the end of the day and sometimes it's just unpredictable. I'm feeling good about where my game is. As I said, it's about going out there and playing as free as I can and having that mentality that I had as a 22-year-old and just trying to get into that mindset.”