Rory McIlroy has won four major championships, but the last one came back in 2014, when he captured the PGA Championship a month after winning the British Open.
Since then, McIlroy has posted 10 top-10 finishes in majors, but no wins.
“If anything, if you’ve looked at my major championship performances over the last few years, I’ve just gotten off to slow starts,” McIlroy said Tuesday in advance of this week’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot. “I probably just put a little too much pressure on myself going into tournaments. And from there, shooting a bad score on the first day and putting yourself under even more pressure from there to just make it to the weekend, and then to try to play catch-up. I think that’s been the big thing.
“When I start tournaments well, I seem to stay up there. I started Pebble last year [at the U.S. Open] with a nice score and stayed up there for the most part. I didn’t quite finish the week the way I wanted to. But that’s been the big thing for me. If I can start and put a good solid round together on a Thursday, I’m usually right there.”
McIlroy, just a couple weeks removed from the birth of his first child, a daughter named Poppy, joked, “I actually changed the first two diapers, so I’m very proud of that. But yeah, I’ve got my hands dirty; put it that way.”
He said fatherhood has calmed him.
“I think it just puts things in perspective a little bit,” he said. “It makes the hard days a little easier to get over. And I’m not saying that I want to have hard days to get over, but yeah, you’re a little more relaxed. When I say it’s not the be-all and end-all, it’s a major championship and I’ve grown up my whole life dreaming of winning these tournaments, and that’s not going to change. But if it doesn’t quite happen, I can live with that and go home and be very happy and leave what’s happened at the golf course at the golf course.”
Justin Thomas, the No. 3-ranked player in the world, has his regular caddie, Jimmy Johnson, back on his bag this week. Johnson appeared to be overcome with heat exhaustion at the Memorial and had to stop caddying. Thomas, in recent weeks, has had Jim “Bones” Mackay caddy for him.
“It’s great to have [Johnson] back,” Thomas said. “It seems like it was so long ago and it seems like it was such a short time ago that he was caddying last. He’s been ready to go for a little bit, but I just think getting a couple extra weeks’ rest and to get ready to go for this week was good for him.”