Rory McIlroy's run of dismal performances continued at the 2013 U.S. Open.
The Northern Irishman and former No. 1 player in the world shot a six-over-par round of 76 on Sunday, finishing the tournament at Merion's East Course with a score of 14-over par and in 41st place.
Merion abused other top golfers, too. Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia are among those who were overwhelmed by the conditions.
We expect Garcia to choke away the chance to win majors. He's been doing it throughout his entire career and is well known as one of the most talented golfers to have never won a major championship.
Kuchar and Woods can also be excused, as both have won at least two tournaments this year.
McIlroy, however, is teetering into dangerous territory, as this was his third horrible performance in a row, having missed the cut at the BMW PGA Championship and then finishing in 57th place at the Memorial Tournament.
After the tournament, via Ewan Murray of The Guardian, McIlroy talked about his game and about how he's feeling lately:
I think it's about confidence and fluidity. I don't have any other way to explain it. I have been working on the swing quite hard over the last few months and it looks really good on camera. I just get on the course and I hit a couple of bad shots and I guess that it sort of makes you lose confidence a little bit during the round.
I don't feel like it's too far away at all. It's just a matter of believing and staying patient and working hard and knowing that if you work on the right thing, you are going to turn it around.
He's saying all the right things right now, and you'd expect nothing less.
The pressure seems to be getting to McIlroy, however.
After hitting his ball into the water at No. 11 on Sunday, Mcilroy appeared to attempt breaking his club. He ended up merely bending the club severely, and he was then forced to play the rest of his round without it.
After the tournament, McIlroy blamed his frustration on Merion:
There's no doubting McIlroy's natural ability. When he's playing with precision and confidence, there are few players who can match him stroke for stroke.
Unfortunately, it's been a while since McIlroy has been able to play with consistency, and he seems to be wearing down mentally. His last victory on either the PGA Tour or the European Tour came last November in Dubai.
It's too early to proclaim doom upon McIlroy's season. There are still two major championships and a bevy of other tournaments left on the schedule—plenty of time left for McIlroy to turn things around.
With that said, if he continues playing poorly and losing confidence in what he's doing on the course, McIlroy will be in danger of taking a big tumble down the world rankings.
Confidence is the key to playing golf.
Right now, McIlroy doesn't appear to have much left. His game, as a result, is spiraling out of control. If he goes any further down this particular rabbit hole, then there's no guaranteeing when he'll snap out of his current slump.
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