Rory McIlroy is expected to play in Thursday’s first round of The Memorial, despite withdrawing from Wednesday’s pro-am and his scheduled press conference at the Ohio course.
The Northern Irishman cited “personal reasons” for skipping both and it is understood that there is a legitimate reason for his no-show and is in no way. It was reported that McIlroy later turned up at the layout to round off his preparations for his first event since the US PGA Championship two weeks ago.
In another mediocre major performance, McIIroy, 32, finished just inside the top 50 at Kiawah Island, failing to build on his win at the Well’s Fargo Championship a fortnight before. With the US Open fast approaching, McIlroy will be desperate to replicate his form in Charlotte, where he lifted his first title in 18 months.
The four-time major-winner is due to tee off at 1.44pm local time in the company of Australia Adam Scott and Victor Hovland, the young Norwegian who has risen to 12th in the world and who is almost guaranteed to make his Ryder Cup debut in September.
McIlroy came fourth at Muirfield Village five years ago, but in his last two appearances at the Jack Nicklaus promoted tournament he has missed the cut and tied for 32nd. Those outings hardly inspire confidence in McIlroy’s candidature in a field boasting 31 of the world’s top 50.
However, Nicklaus believes that McIlroy’s recent switch to Pete Cowen could prove richly positive in the long-term. Until, McIlroy appointed the Yorkshire coach two months ago, his only swing advisor had been Michael Bannon – since he was eight years old.
“Jack Grout was my only teacher,” Nicklaus explained. “But Jack understood that there were more ways to play golf than just what he thought. So Grout said, Jack, ‘I want you to go take a lesson from Byron Nelson, from Bob Toski, and from Claude Harmon’.
“I said, ‘Why do you want me to do that?’ And he said, ‘I want you to understand that there are other ways to play the game than what I teach. I want you to understand that’. And I’m sure that’s what Rory is doing – getting more philosophies.”
Spain’s Jon Rahm is the defending champion and is rightfully favourite despite Nicklaus’s extensive changes to the course since 2020, although Bryson DeChambeau may command the biggest share of the spotlight after his social media spat with Brooks Koepka. Alas, for feud-lovers everywhere, Koepka is not playing.