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par-fect drive Paul McGinley: World rankings slide can reignite wounded Rory McIlroy back to his best

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Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

After going seven years without a Major win and falling to his worst world ranking for more than 11 years, wounded pride could be what it takes to fire Rory McIlroy up again as he celebrates his 32nd birthday today.

The Holywood star fell two spots to 15th in the world yesterday — his lowest ranking since November 2009, when Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were the game’s top two and the Down man was 17th.

With the world rankings calculated over a rolling two-year period, McIlroy will gradually lose the points he built up in 2019 when he won four times and racked up another 15 top-10 finishes.

That means he could plummet quickly if he fails to perform over the summer months, and former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley reckons that could be just the jolt he needs to get back to his best.

“I’ve always felt Rory is an inspirational player, and wherever that inspiration is going to come from, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “Maybe dropping down the world rankings, as he has done, will do it.

“He may well drop very quickly in the next six months as well, with so many points coming off. That might be the kind of thing that would ignite him again.”

The four-time Major winner has been working with new coach Pete Cowen ahead of this week’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, scene of his sensational maiden PGA Tour win in 2010.

With two wins and another five top-10 finishes in nine appearances in Charlotte and a field featuring Shane Lowry and four of the world’s top five in Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, and Bryson DeChambeau, it could just be the place to get his juices flowing.

McGinley certainly expects him to emerge from the doldrums sooner rather than later.

“He’s been through slumps before in his career, and this is nothing new,” he said. “There’s no reason why in his early 30s he can’t come out of this one.”

McGinley will be trying to help the next generation of Great Britain and Ireland stars at Seminole Golf Club in Florida this week when he gives the Walker Cup team, which includes Kilkenny’s Mark Power and Kinsale’s John Murphy, his thoughts on the venue ahead of the weekend’s clash with the USA.

McGinley finished tied 30th in the Champions Tour’s Insperity Invitational in Texas on Sunday, where Darren Clarke tied for 13th, seven shots behind Mike Weir ahead of the first senior Major of the season, the Regions Tradition at Greystone in Alabama.

Seamus Power returns to action on Thursday after recovering from Covid-19 in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Simmons Bank Open in Tennessee.

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The European Tour remains at Tenerife for the Canary Islands Championship with teenager Tom McKibbin (18) joining Paul Dunne, Niall Kearney, Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin at Golf Costa Adeje.

On the Challenge Tour, Lucan’s Richard O’Donovan joins Michael Hoey and Gavin Moynihan in the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt after coming through yesterday’s qualifier at Royal Cape.

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