The Open 2013: Rory McIlroy 'not bothered' by poor run

By Rob HodgettsBBC Sport
McIlroy "positive" for Muirfield challenge

Rory McIlroy insists it is only a matter of time before he is back to winning ways as he gears up for the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield this week.

The world number two has yet to win a tournament this season and missed the cut in his last start at the Irish Open.

McIlroy won the US PGA by a record eight shots last summer for his second major title and went on to win the money list on both sides of the Atlantic.

But since signing a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal to use Nike clubs and balls in January, McIlroy has failed to recreate the same form that took him to number one.

"What's the big deal?" said the 24-year-old. "I haven't had the best six months, but it's OK, I'm fine. I've got a good life. It doesn't bother me. I'm in a good place. I'm working hard and I feel like I'm working on the right things. And sooner or later it will turn around and I'll be back lifting trophies."

Sir Nick Faldo urges Rory McIlroy to focus on his golf game

McIlroy pulled out of the US Tour's Honda Classic in his first strokeplay event with the new clubs in March, citing toothache, but was eighth the following week and posted an encouraging second-place finish at the Texas Open in his last event before the Masters.

But at Augusta, where he famously blew a four-shot lead in 2011, he finished a lacklustre tied 25th and followed that by snapping a club in frustration on the way to a tie for 41st at the US Open in June.

Alongside his on-course struggles, McIlroy's high-profile relationship with former women's tennis number one Caroline Wozniacki garners its share of comment, while a change of management company is also ongoing.

Six-time major champion Sir Nick Faldo ventured earlier this week that McIlroy should concentrate on golf, practising eight hours a day to the detriment of everything else like the Englishman used to in his pomp.

"I saw what he said, and he said I should be at the course nine to five," said McIlroy. "I actually was on the range at 06:15, and got out of the gym at 18:15, actually a 12-hour day compared to his eight-hour day.

Rory McIlroy responds to Sir Nick Faldo

"He probably said a million other things in that interview and he obviously said something about me, and that's the thing that's been picked up by everyone else. I know how these things go. I know he wasn't trying to get on my case at all. He was just offering words of advice in some way. But I think he has to remember how hard this game can be at times."

McIlroy admits the equipment switch has been a struggle but insists changing it all at the same time - rather than in stages at Woods once did - was the right move.

"I don't mind maybe not playing your best golf for six months," he said. "It isn't a huge sacrifice in a 30-year career."

McIlroy hit back from his Masters meltdown by winning his maiden major - again by eight shots - at the US Open two months later, setting a number of scoring records along the way. And last year he followed a disappointing run of three missed cuts with a stellar end to the season, finishing the year as world number one.

He added: "You're going to go through highs and you're going to go through lows. It's just about trying to work your way out of the lows. I haven't played my best golf this year, but I've showed signs that it is there.

McIlroy delight after 'best golf' of his life

"But I know that I'm working on the right things and I know that I'm doing the right things and I'm staying patient. And I know sooner or later it will turn around and I'll play the golf that everyone knows that I'm capable of and the golf it that I know that's capable of winning major championships."

Both Woods and Phil Mickelson defended McIlroy and tipped him to bounce back soon.

"I remember after winning the Masters by 12 shots in my first major as a pro and then everyone was wondering why I changed my swing the following year," said Woods. "People obviously speculate and analyze and hypothesize about what he should or shouldn't do, but deep down he knows what he's doing."

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