Rory McIlroy’s quick fire achievement’s at the launch of his professional career saw him become a hugely popular winner, as he captured three out of the four major Golf championships available by the tender age of twenty five. A feat only shared with the most esteemed company, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
Such early whirlwind success suggested that it would simply be a matter of time before he would round off his growing collection with a Masters green jacket, joining only five other players to complete the coveted grand slam.
What has transpired since those heady early heights has been quite the opposite however, as he has continues to flounder at not only Augusta, but also at a host of other major tournaments in his quest to add to his trophy haul. Time and again it seems as if he presses the self destruct button whenever the winning post rears its head on the horizon.
To his credit he has picked up a number of victories on the PGA tour, but despite being a perennial top five finisher, it seems that it’s major competition where he has developed a serious mental block, as his killer instinct continues to elude him when it matters most, with his last victory coming at the PGA Championship in 2015.
It is tricky to surmise as to how Rory can halt this crippling trend which continues to plague his game to this very day. This has been a considerable source of frustration for the man himself, as he continues to scrutinise his own performances in his forage for solutions and answers.
There is surely no reason why one of the most naturally gifted players in the world cannot reclaim the glories of yesteryear, as all his performances are lacking is the ability to convert the chances that he creates for himself in the final straight.
This crucial ruthlessness is something that he has exhibited on many occasions in the earlier stages of his career, so it is more a case of reawakening this characteristic inside of himself, rather than reinventing the wheel.
He certainly isn’t lacking in any physical aspect as his distances from tee to green are a match for any of his fellow competitors, so I feel that it is the psychological side of his game that will need tweaking with in his attempt to return to the promise land.
This may be a far more reliable strategy than trying to emulate his fellow competitors, as he recently attempted to mimic Golf’s pantomime villain Bryson Dechambeau in order to gain more length off the tee. He later publicly declared that this was an unmitigated disaster, leaving his swing in ruins.
Rory’s initial rise to superstardom culminated in him replacing the iconic Tiger Woods as the face of the PGA tour video game franchise, which in turn has seen his fanbase and brand grow exponentially over the years. This may well have compounded his issues in recent times as the obligation to be a viable commercial commodity for his sponsors may well have taken a sizeable toll.
This status as a household name in the sport comes hand in hand with great expectation, which can only serve to stove the fire of internal pressure that every player must already deal with.
Unfortunately his inability to land the big prizes has now become the primary narrative whenever he steps onto a Golf course, as the burden that is heaped onto his shoulders at every event is now only akin to Tiger Woods in his pomp.
Golf requires an innate ability to perform under pressure and be able to maintain composure at the most pivotal of moments. So in order for Rory to replicate his earlier triumphs it may be time for him to try and rediscover the relaxed care free attitude that propelled him to so much success to begin with.
I feel that he should also draw great strength from his friend and fellow countryman Darren Clarke, who finally captured his first major trophy at the grand age of fourty two at The Open in 2011. His own unwavering self belief finally dragging him over the line despite toiling in Golf major mediocrity for over twenty years.
Therefore I believe that it is paramount that Rory continues to keep faith in himself and his undeniable genius, with it high time he released the shackles that he has straddled his own mind with over the last seven years.
This may bring a sense of joy and freedom to his game, as he already has a major trophy haul that many of his fellow professionals would be proud to call their own.
He also has father time on his side at the age of thirty to rediscover his own enjoyment of the game, which I also feel is a vital ingredient in an often volatile sport that manage’s to infuriate even the finest of players at times.
With the new major season now set to begin in earnest, we will see him continue his hunt for championship prosperity with a shot at that elusive US Masters title at Augusta in April.
With his likeable demeanor and raw enthusiasm for the sport it would be difficult to imagine a more well received recipient of a major title this year if the Northern Irishman can finally overcome the demons that have blighted his game for far too long.
Rory’s psyche will no doubt be placed under intense scrutiny at this competition and throughout 2022 by the media and the unforgiving nature of the sport itself.
Yet, it is my hope that he comes out swinging with renewed vigor and mental clarity, as he looks to finally conquer his own personal Everest and make his long awaited return to the pinnacle of the game once more.
Regardless of the outcome, the ground swell of support for him will surely continue to expand, as his status amongst enthusiasts of the sport has never been defined by merely silverware alone.
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