Here’s the problem with Rory McIlroy’s 2017: All the cool stuff happened off the golf course.
McIlroy got married to former PGA employee Erica Stoll, bought Ernie Els’ old house at the Bear’s Club and decided he liked J.P. Fitzgerald as a friend too much to keep him on as a caddy.
Still just 28, McIlroy struggled through an injury-filled golf campaign. He changed caddies and left Nike’s equipment camp.
Things looked liked they would get off to a smashing start in 2017 for McIlroy. He finished second at the BMW SA Open in Ekurhuleni, shooting an 18-under 270. He was hampered with injuries the next two months but looked on point when he returned, taking seventh in the WGC-Mexico Championship and fourth in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, along with tying for seventh at the Masters.
He slid to 35th at the PLAYERS Championship and missed the cut at the US Open, shooting a miserable 78 in the first round. He bounced back in fine form to tie for fourth at the Open Championship, shooting 71-68-69-67. The strong performances continued when he finished tied for fifth at the WGC-Bridgestone, with all four rounds between 67 and 69.
He slid to a tie for 22nd at the PGA Championship, a tournament he was a favorite in. Three straight rounds of 72s or 73s doomed his chances. He was a non-factor in the US’ FedEx Cup, finishing tied for 34th at the Northern Trust, missing the cut at the Dell Technologies Championship and tying for 58th at the BMW Championship which saw him finish outside the top 30.
His best finish of the second half of the year came at the British Masters, where he finished second with a 17-under 263 punctuated by a fourth-round 63.
At 28, McIlroy is still one of the best young players in the game, but coming off an injury-filled year it will be curious how he responds. Additionally, a full year as a married man will see how mature McIlroy has become since his ill-fated engagement to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki three four ago.