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07th Apr 2023

Nick Faldo gives tough, honest opinion as Rory McIlroy faces Masters cut

Patrick McCarry

Rory McIlroy

The three-time Masters champion took no pleasure in giving this assessment of McIlroy’s fortunes.

Rory McIlroy must wait until Saturday until confirmation comes but he will know that his 2023 Masters challenge is over.

Play was suspended, at Augusta National, just after 5pm local time [in Georgia] after storm clouds rolled in, bringing threats of lightning, and three large trees collapsed just off the 17th tee box. Miraculously, no-one was injured despite the falling trees doing a lot of damage.

By this stage, McIlroy would have already have been signing for his poor second round of 77 that looks set to provide him with only his third missed cut in his 15 times at the Masters. Asked about the forecast of poor weather, after his first round of 72, McIlroy told reporters:

“Hopefully we don’t get affected by it too much, and we can get out there and play 18 holes uninterrupted. I can shoot something in the mid-60s and get myself back in it… go out there and give myself plenty of chances and play a great round of golf tomorrow and get myself back on that big white scoreboard.”

McIlroy did not have much interruptions during his second round but he struggled all day with his game. He went out in 40 shots [+4 for his day] and bogeyed the 11th. When he did, he had the equal worst round of the day as veteran Masters champions Sandy Lyle (aged 65), Vijay Singh (60) and Jose Maria Olazabal (57).

The Holywood native birdied 13 and looked set for a magnificent eagle on the 15th but missed a relatively straight-forward putt. He did get the birdie to drop, coming back, but bogeyed 16 and 18 to fall two strokes below the projected cut line.

Because play was suspended, that cut will only become official around Saturday lunch-time. McIlroy finished 17 strokes worse than second round leader Brooks Koepka and, over on Sky Sports, Nick Faldo and Paul McGinley were asked for their take on McIlroy’s wretched Masters. Faldo tried to be positive but there was no denying his uncomfortable joke about McIlroy’s winless run at Majors.

Rory McIlroyRory McIlroy’s poor second round was assessed by former Masters champion Nick Faldo.

Nick Faldo on Rory McIlroy

Sky Sports host Nick Dougherty teed up the post-round chat on Rory McIlroy by saying the four-time major winner gets deserving praise when he plays, and wins, big events. By that metric, Dougherty argued that some strong critique must follow after his rounds of 72 and 77.

Faldo, who won the Masters three times in his career, said McIlroy had ‘lost trust’ in his game. “He’s trying to fad [the ball] and still pulling it, so that’s a bit of a mess going through impact,” he said.

“That happened in the middle of his round, on Thursday. Then he comes to 13 and hits as beautiful drive in the perfect spot and he pulls [the next shot] way left. That’s a dig at you, mentally, every single time. That’s what he struggles at. You lose your trust and… there’s no bail-out here, you have to face every single shot. You can’t have a time-out.

“Whether he’s putting too much priority on the driver… here, it’s just about getting it down the fairway… and then that [uncertainty] feeds into everything. It fed into his putting, as well. Understandably, you get down.”

Nick Faldo added that Rory McIlroy may have landed the wrong side of the draw and was already putting himself under pressure, as a later starter on Thursday, when the likes of Koepka and Jon Rahm shot -7. The 65-year-old took little pleasure in going in on the McIlroy performance, which could explain why he attempted an awkward and uncomfortable joke:

“So, it’s a tough week,” Faldo began. “We’ll send him away and, what will that be? It’ll be going to 10 years [without a major] next year!”

“10th time lucky,” Nick Dougherty added, “it’s a well-known phrase.”

Faldo also questioned McIlroy doing a walk-and-talk interview with NBC during his first round:

Play will resume early on Saturday morning as a host of golfers try to complete their second rounds then get a short break before teeing it up for what is traditionally known as ‘moving day’.

Koepka leads on -12 with Rahm three strokes back and Texan amateur Sam Bennett on -8.

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