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Brennan's brief How Rory McIlroy can bounce back to his best at a golf course he truly loves to play

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Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Just before 6pm on Thursday evening, Rory McIlroy will dip his toe back into the world of professional golf when he hits his opening drive at the Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Golf Club in North Carolina.

It ought to be easy for the Irishman. It was on this course that he won his first PGA event, 11 years ago, and he has won at Quail Hollow again since and gone close to winning a couple of times. Indeed no professional golfer has won more money at the course than Rory – he clearly loves the place.

But it will not be easy for Rory. He’s coming back to the sport after a month off, a month of rest that ended a month of disaster where his game went to pieces.

Rory admitted he had got caught up in trying to compete with the latest ‘big bomber’ on the US Tour, Bryson de Chambeau, and his game just unravelled.

He changed coaches, from his long-time mentor Michael Bannon to Pete Cowen. But it was too late to stave off another Masters disaster, as Rory missed the cut, firing eight bogeys and a double bogey in 36 holes when the best of the rest were making birdies at Augusta.

No doubt the early days of that time off were just spent relaxing, clearing his head, letting Rory enjoy time off with his wife and their baby girl. However, the last few weeks were surely spent in furious practice with Cowen, trying to recover the precision driving and laser-like iron play that were once McIlroy’s trademarks.

He’s never been the best putter in the business, just a streaky one who comes good with the blade from time to time. And when that happens Rory is unbeatable.

It hasn’t all come together for a while, and certainly not for a long time in the Majors – he last won one in 2014. Since then a whole host of younger golfers have come along and won their first Major in their 20’s. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama was just the latest of them in the Masters last month.

Rory turned 32 last Tuesday. It would be crazy to say the clock is ticking on Rory’s time at the top, but it would be true to point out that the hands on the clock are moving week by week.

The next five months are huge for Rory. There’s a Major this month, the USPGA. And one in June, the US Open. There’s one in July, the British Open and there’s an Olympic Gold Medal to be won in August. And then there is playing for Captain Padraig Harrington at the Ryder Cup in Wisconsin in September.

What happens won’t govern how Rory fares in all those huge events to come. Yet you can bet your life he wants to get off to a good start at Quail Hollow.

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