PGA Tour Inc.

05/08/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/08/2021 18:33

Rory McIlroy and Wells Fargo: that old, familiar feeling

Woodland has struggled with injuries, which crept into his attitude.

'I haven't been excited to play, to be honest with you, for the last year,' he said.

He hit rock bottom at the Valspar in Tampa, where he is a past champion but missed the cut. It was the sixth consecutive round in which he'd failed to break par. A deep dive with coaches Butch Harmon and Pete Cowen, though, turned up a few things on videotape, and Woodland has been seeing more of the type of shots that won him the 2019 U.S. Open.

'It feels great to be back in this position,' he said.

Then there's McIlroy, whose game seemed to disintegrate the longer the pandemic went on. Although the PGA TOUR returned without on-site fans last June, McIlroy's A-game did not. Somehow the lack of buzz from the fans was translating to a very flat performance by the two-time FedExCup champ.

Not anymore.

'Just so cool to play in an atmosphere like that again,' McIlroy said after making five birdies and one double-bogey in a tale of two nines (31-37) on Saturday. 'I've missed it. I didn't think I would miss it as much as I did, but I really have. … I'm excited about tomorrow.'

There will be no mistaking the people's choice. The Quail Hollow faithful know him well - two wins, his first course record (62), his second course record (61). He's even a member of the club. It all feels very normal. And in these times - a slumping golfer; a bruised world - normal is good.

The slump: McIlroy hasn't won since late 2019 (World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions). He came into the Wells Fargo at 15th in the Official World Golf Ranking, the lowest he's been since late 2009, and 51st in the FedExCup.

Some of his problems, he admitted, were self-inflicted. Specifically, he got off track while chasing Bryson DeChambeau-like speed and distance. After a final-round 76 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard (T10, eight behind DeChambeau) in March, he said he was 'dejected' and 'maybe looking to go in a different direction.'