AKRON, Ohio — Rory McIlroy has sponsors logos on his sleeves. He doesn't want his emotions there as well.
After what has been an erratic year of great victories and dismal defeats, he's trying his best to internalize his feelings a little bit more on the course.
In other words, fewer grimaces and grins, more focus, less frustration.
"I've become a little bit too emotionally involved with my golf over the last few months, I guess," he said Wednesday, a day before the start of play in the Bridgestone Invitational. "I've let it either get me excited or get me down, where I should really just not get too high or too low about it at all."
In the glaring light of worldwide golf acclaim, McIlroy's temperament is a focal point. It's certainly not difficult to tell from a quick glance how things are going for the 24-year-old from Holywood, Northern Ireland.
By most any measure, his last year has been very successful. He won the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, and will defend next week at Oak Hill. After winning his second major, he had back-to-back victories at the Deutsche Bank and BMW Championship late in 2012, giving him four wins on the year. After that, he played an integral part in Europe's stunning come-from-behind win over the United States in the Ryder Cup.
This calendar year, he hasn't won on the PGA Tour, hasn't really threatened in the three majors (a missed cut at the British Open, a tie for 41st in the U.S. Open and a tie for 25th at the Masters) and has one top-five finish in 11 starts. On the European Tour, he has only finished in the top 10 in one of his eight starts.
There have also been a couple of public meltdowns. He withdrew at the Honda Classic because of poor play. His mental state was called into question by the British tabloids after he expressed his frustration two weeks ago after two bad rounds at Muirfield.
"The last 51 weeks (since last year's PGA at Kiawah Island) it's been up and down," McIlroy said. "My highs have been incredibly high and my lows have been pretty low. It's just about trying to stabilize everything out and try to make it a little more on an even keel."
As in the past, he is being counseled by several worthy advisers, including former player and instructor Dave Stockton, to get a grip on his emotions.
"I've always said it's easier to smile when you're making birdies," McIlroy said. "The thing (Stockton) said to me last year that I'm trying to do again is if someone's watching you on the outside, don't let them know whether you've made a birdie or a bogey."
That approach carries over off the course as well, apparently.
Hall of Famer Gary Player recently wondered aloud if tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, McIlroy's girlfriend for the past couple of years, was a good fit for him. Player said it was important for McIlroy to find "the right wife."
Asked about Player's words on Wednesday, McIlroy said he had no idea what Player had said.
"I haven't heard," he said. "I don't know what you're talking about."
When told, he laughed. Then he expressed admiration for the legendary Player.
Perhaps he was already hiding his emotions.
|Texas - WP: S. Tolleson||16||FINAL|
|Oakland - LP: D. Hooker||15|
|Los Angeles||4||Top 9th Inning|
|Anaheim||2||3rd Prd 6:23|
|San Diego St||58|
|Sam Houston St||49||FINAL|
|Stephen F Austin||68|
|New Mexico St||77|
|Red Bull New York||1|
|Sporting Kansas City||1|
|Real Salt Lake||3||FINAL|
|Fla Gulf Coast||64|
|Coll of Charleston||52||FINAL|
|Stephen F Austin||80|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||84|