Newspaper article International New York Times

McIlroy Rediscovers Form and Gains New Perspective

Newspaper article International New York Times

McIlroy Rediscovers Form and Gains New Perspective

Article excerpt

Rory McIlroy, who began the season ranked No. 1 in the world but has since fallen to No. 6, earned his first victory of 2013 at the Australian Open.

For Rory McIlroy, fans shouting his name have become background noise, as natural as the pounding surf in nearby Malibu. It is rare that a single cry of "Rory" can turn his head, as happened after McIlroy walked off the first tee box at Sherwood Country Club during the pro-am for the World Challenge, hosted by Tiger Woods.

The fan was Mark O'Meara, a two-time major champion, who warmly congratulated McIlroy on his first victory of 2013, on Sunday at the Australian Open. After a brief conversation, O'Meara headed back to the range Wednesday to prepare for his tee time, but not before telling McIlroy, "Keep it going."

O'Meara said he had been rooting for McIlroy since they were grouped together for the first two rounds of the 2009 Dubai Desert Classic, which McIlroy went on to win for his first pro title. "I said then, 'This kid is an amazing talent,"' O'Meara said. "He's gone through a difficult time this year, but the win last week at the Australian Open will only solidify the belief I have in his talent and his future."

The manner in which McIlroy won was impressive. He came from four strokes back to defeat Adam Scott, who has been hot the past four months. McIlroy birdied the last hole for a closing 66 to finish one stroke ahead of Scott.

"Did I need the win?" McIlroy said Wednesday after his round. "Probably not. Was it nice to get the win? Of course. But I felt like I saw enough good golf in there to know that it was very close, and it wasn't going to be long before I did win."

After starting the year ranked No. 1 in the world, McIlroy has dropped to No. 6. The players ahead of him include two veterans enjoying breakout seasons: No. 3 Henrik Stenson, who turned professional the same year McIlroy turned 10; and No. 2 Scott, who won his first major in April, 13 years after a heralded professional debut.

Stenson and Scott endured deep valleys in their long and winding climb toward the summit. By comparison, McIlroy's ascent was a breeze; he reached No. …

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