McIlroy planning to adopt Woods' approach as he eyes 2022 success

By Sports Desk January 19, 2022

Rory McIlroy wants to follow Tiger Woods' lead as he strives to return to the peak of his powers this season.

It is seven years since McIlroy won the last of his four major titles and he was reduced to tears when frankly stating he "should have done more" to try and prevent Europe from slumping to a record defeat to the United States in the Ryder Cup last September.

McIlroy went on to end 2021 with a flourish, winning the CJ Cup and finishing in a share of sixth in the DP World Tour Championship after holding the lead heading into the final round.

The 32-year-old, who will start his season at the Abu Dhabi Championship this weekend, has outlined his intention to adopt an approach that worked so well for the legendary Woods over the years.

"There are certainly aspects of what he did so well in the past that I would obviously love to put into my game," said the Northern Irishman.

McIlroy is not looking to try match Bryson DeChambeau in the driving department, though.

He added: "No, I don't need to. The goal of hitting more fairways, it maybe means throttling back and hitting three-wood a little more often or hitting clubs that are maybe not as aggressive off tees and just putting yourself in the fairway.

"I'll certainly pick and choose my spots where I can take advantage of the driver and hit it, the best player of the last 30 years, Tiger, he picked and chose where he hit driver and he played a very, very controlled game. It didn't work out too badly for him."

McIlroy revealed he is taking a different approach when setting his goals for the year.

"I used to sit down on the flight here and write down I want to win five times, I want to win a major, I want to win The Race to Dubai, I want to win the FedExCup, I'd love to win six times in a season as I've won five in the past, I want to do this or that," he said.

"And all those things are great goals and they are things to try to work towards. But I think the biggest thing for guys at the level that we're at is I want to hit over 60 per cent of my fairways.

"I want my proximity [to the hole] inside 150 yards to be a certain number. I want my strokes-gained putting to be a certain number. I can't control if I win five or six times a year.

"There's so many other variables in there. I'd rather set goals that are objective and measurable that I'm in control of.

"I can certainly control if I hit 60 per cent of the fairways and I'd love to get my iron play back to where it was a few years ago. I can control if my stats are better than they were the year before."

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    Woods had rebounded from a disappointing opening round of 74 to make the cut with Friday score of 69, which even he admitted "wasn't pretty".

    However, things were far less pretty in his third round, especially on the sixth hole as he suffered a triple bogey.

    Up until that point, the 46-year-old had not been doing too badly, making par on four of the first five holes (one bogey), but that setback on six led to a slide.

    After another bogey at seven in tough conditions, Woods made par on eight before bogeying five holes in a row to sit on 10 over for the round after 13 holes.

    The 15-time major champion was able to save some face after that, making par on 14 before his first and only birdie of the day at 15.

    Three pars to finish saved his blushes as he just avoided carding 80, which he has only ever done twice at majors - scoring 81 in round three of the 2002 Open Championship, and 80 in the first round of the 2015 US Open.

    He goes into Sunday on 12 over par, tied for 76th.

     

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    However, things were far less pretty in his third round, especially on the sixth hole as he suffered a triple bogey.

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    After another bogey at seven in tough conditions, Woods made par on eight before bogeying five holes in a row to sit on 10 over for the round after 13 holes.

    The 15-time major champion was able to save some face after that, making par on 14 before his first and only birdie of the day at 15.

    Three pars to finish saved his blushes as he just avoided carding 80, which he has only ever done twice at majors - scoring 81 in round three of the 2002 Open Championship, and 80 in the first round of the 2015 US Open.

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  • US PGA Championship: 'They put Humpty Dumpty back together' – Woods keen to make up for lost time US PGA Championship: 'They put Humpty Dumpty back together' – Woods keen to make up for lost time

    Tiger Woods reiterated his delight that he is even able to be back out on the course after he made the cut at the US PGA Championship.

    Woods had a difficult first round at Southern Hills County Club, carding 74 to leave him with plenty of work to do to make the weekend.

    Yet the 15-time major champion recovered in fine fashion on Friday, going round in 69 to leave him at three over and T53.

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    He returned at the Masters last month just over a year after suffering serious injuries in a car accident in California.

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    Bubba Watson matched the lowest round in PGA Championship history as he shot 63 in his second round to propel himself up the leaderboard.

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    "I'm hoping I can shoot a number like Bubba did today," he added. "That's where my mind is at right now. I've got to do some things physically to get myself there tomorrow and it will be a quick turnaround.

    "That's the reward you get for just making the cut. You get to tee off early the next day, and hopefully I can get it in. The weather is supposed to be a little more difficult and be a little more testy, and hopefully that's the case.

    "If that's the case, hopefully I can post a good round and at least move up the board, get myself within striking distance on Sunday. I'm pretty far back, but you just never know.

    "Major championships are hard to win. We've seen guys with big leads or have made big comebacks, so you just never know."

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