KUALA LUMPUR: Rickie Fowler tipped Rory McIlroy yesterday to emerge stronger after his struggles this year as soon he regains his confidence on the golf course.
The young American said he didn’t doubt that McIlroy, the former world number one who slumped after taking up a lucrative equipment endorsement, would get back to his best.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Fowler said of his 24-year-old contemporary, ahead of this week’s $7m CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur.
“He’s a great player and he’s very talented. I know he had a good finish last week. Golf is a game of confidence.
“When you get on a good roll and get things going, if he gets a few good finishes and gets momentum and confidence back on his side, he’ll be fine.”
McIlroy showed a glimpse of his old self last week when he finished second at the Kolon Korean Open, only his second top-five finish of the year.
The Northern Irishman was world number one and topped both the European and American money lists last year before signing a major endorsement deal with Nike.
McIlroy, who has also had problems with his management set-up and, reportedly, a bust-up with his tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, has refused to blame the new clubs for his poor form.
“I don’t have any worries or doubts about him,” Fowler said. “He had a tough year this year, and golf is a tough game. There’s a lot of unanswered questions.
“You never know what’s going to happen the next day, and it was unfortunate to see him struggle a bit, but I’m sure he learned quite a bit from the year and he’s going to be stronger moving forward.”
McIlroy, currently ranked at world number six, is playing the BMW Masters in Shanghai this week as he bids to end his difficult year on a high. AFP