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Rory McIlroy, With a New Coach and Returning Galleries, Has Rebounded


“I’m in a completely different place in life,” he said. “Yeah, everything has changed, really.”

He continued: “I think a lot has changed for the better. I’m standing up here probably more confident in myself, happier with where I am in my life, and yeah, just sort of enjoying everything, enjoying life, enjoying everything a bit more.”

McIlroy paused and smiled.

“Yeah, it’s all good.”

Adam Scott — the 2013 Masters champion, who is now 40 — has watched McIlroy’s entire professional career. He was unsurprised by the Wells Fargo victory, and he mostly recalls McIlroy’s soaring heights, including the 2012 P.G.A. Championship. On Tuesday, Scott was asked if that performance had called to mind Woods in his prime, when he made golf seem patently easy.

“Yeah, Rory was giving off that vibe at the time,” Scott said. “That was his second major win, and he’d won both majors by eight. That sounds pretty Tiger-esque to me. That was the early Tiger kind of moves.

“I mean, it looked free-flow, and he was driving it much longer than most others that week, and straight, and rolling putts in. When talented guys like a Tiger or a Rory start doing that, it does make the game look easy, even on a really tough course.”

Wherever McIlroy’s golf game stands as he enters his 49th major championship, he has a more upbeat, energized approach than he did last year, amid the pandemic. McIlroy, more than any other top golfer, admitted that his stumbles in 2020 were in part related to the lack of fans at events.

He felt listless without the reaction of an enthusiastic gallery after a good shot and conceded that it had an effect on his ability to play his best. On Tuesday, McIlroy said he had been boosted by the return of fans at events where attendance is at about 25 percent of capacity, or roughly 10,000 spectators.

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