Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that make a difference, even for a multi-zillionaire like Rory McIlroy.
He used to have a hard time at THE PLAYERS. He was staying in a nearby hotel, and sometimes it was difficult for him to get out of the lobby without being accosted, as it can be for top players. Then he made a change in plans and started staying at the actual beachfront. He didn’t say where, but as we all know it’s probably a private home or one of two resorts.
“I started staying on the beach a few years ago, and that's made the event a lot more enjoyable,” he explained. “It's sort of I stayed pretty much on property there at the — at that hotel, and I just felt like I couldn't get away from it, and it's busy and there's a lot of people, and so to go and stay on the beach now, it's a nice sort of release from everything that's going on around the event. So, I actually put a lot of it down to that.”
Well, we agree. There’s nothing like a day at the beach. Even part of an afternoon at the beach, will do wonders for most of us. But we never knew it could affect a golfer’s attitude.
“Go for walks,” McIlroy added. “Even just sit on the balcony and look out and sort of get away from it a little bit. It's just very — and it's such a nice beach here. The beach here is so much better than the beach we have back in Jupiter. It's like it's big and flat, and you can run on it, you can walk on it, and it doesn't really pull the legs out of you like it does back down a little bit south of here.”
Well, let’s send that alert to the Chamber of Commerce. Our beaches are nicer than Jupiter’s. If nothing else, they maybe gave McIlroy a little time to let his mind rest, so he could tackle the monster of a golf course on the west side of A1A.
“The first time you get on some Pete Dye courses they're very strange, and they set you up at wrong angles, and visually they're just a little bit not what you want to see, but you learn to deal with it and play the way he wants you to play,” McIlroy said.
McIlroy said at first, he was determined to take advantage of his length and hit drives 20 or 30 yards farther into the fairways to give him an advantage with shorter shots to the greens. The problem with that approach to TPC Sawgrass is that you might hit it farther, but you might play yourself out of position for your next shot. And you know Pete Dye is over there, hiding in a Palmetto going, “Heh, heh, heh,” like a bad villain in a golf cartoon.
“I was a little stubborn the first few years I came here,” McIlroy admitted. “You just have to play this golf course a certain way and be a little bit better than everyone else with your irons and your wedges, and that's usually a good combination around here.”
McIlroy won at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, and he contended at the Masters, but had a less than stellar final round. Having recovered from that disappointment, he’s looking to get into the winner’s circle at more tournaments this year.
“If I can put myself in the final group of some other events coming up, then hopefully I'll have some recent experience, and I'll deal with it a bit better [than he did at The Masters],” he said.
His assessment of the tournament: “It's tough. It's the strongest field in golf. I think all top-50 players in the world are here most years. It's a golf course again where no one really has an advantage.”