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July 19, 2013

McIlroy seeks answers

GULLANE, Scotland — Rory McIlroy was ready to get some help after a fat 42 on the back nine almost surely put him out of contention in the British Open barely after it began.

Not with his swing. With his mind.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m walking out there and I’m unconscious,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy imploded with a startling series of missed shots on the back nine Thursday on his way to a 8-over 79 that demonstrated just how much the former No. 1 player in the world is struggling with his game. He was a staggering 13 shots off the lead even though he felt he hit the ball decently all day.

It left him talking about seeing a sports psychologist to figure out why he can’t score like he used to even after doing everything he could to make his game work.

“It’s a very alien feeling,” McIlroy said. “It’s something I’ve never had to deal with before.”

McIlroy seemed bewildered after a round of missed opportunities, missed putts and even a putt that went into a bunker. By the time he tapped in for a final bogey on the 18th hole and shook hands with playing partners Phil Mickelson and Hideki Matsuyama it was all he could do to add up the damage and sign his card.

A few days earlier, McIlroy was talking about how hopeful he was that he was finally ready to come out of a season-long slump. On this unusually warm day on the Scottish coast he sounded like he was searching desperately for something, anything really, that could save his game.

“I just need to try to think more,” he said. “I’m trying to focus and trying to concentrate. But, yeah, I can’t really fathom it at the minute and it’s hard to stand up here and tell you guys what’s really wrong.”

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