Paul McGinley reckons enough is enough, going into bat for a tired-looking Rory McIlroy saying for too long he’s taken LIV Golf related verbal ‘bullets’ and that it’s time he got support from his PGA Tour colleagues.
McIlroy looked tired, the batteries near empty and his focus poor, McGinley observed following the World No.3’s disappointing opening round of 76 that left him sharing a distant 118th place in the $25m event he won three years ago.
We’ve come to respect McGinley as one of the more astute TV observers in golf and with his comments are timely following McIlroy’s ‘all over the shop’ opener at Tour HQ.
His four-over 76 was a poorest Tour round in 53 weeks after posting a pair of 76s to end the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational while his Sawgrass score is the highest in two years since an opening round of 79, and then after a second day 75, that saw him miss the 2021 Player cut.
And that’s where McIlroy, now 12 back of the lead, is seemingly headed later today for a weekend off after his score included hitting just six of 14 Sawgrass fairways along with just half of the 18 greens in regulation, and then recording 31 putts.
“I see the battery low, to be quite frank,” said McGinley speaking on the Golf Channel.
“When people have a bad day, we’re very quick to rush to judgement and say, ‘oh, it’s his golf swing, or it’s his driver or his putting or he’s got this technical issue going on’.
“And we forget about the importance of psychology in the game and how huge it is, particularly at this level.”
McIlroy, unlike the majority teeing-up this week at Tour HQ, has been kept busy off the course attending meetings as a member of the PGA Tour’s advisory board while he was up early Tuesday fronting a 7.30am a players meeting.
Of course, he was joint runner-up last week at the Arnold Palmer but even a good showing such as that takes its toll but even more so if you have a jam-packed off-course agenda as is clearly the scenario with McIlroy.
That agenda is all about the PGA Tour versus LIV Golf along with McIlroy seemingly dealing with everything Greg Norman continues to hurl at him, and with the Tour’s Commissioner Jay Monahan, until this week, being virtually unheard of for many months.
“One of the features of Rory’s golf over the past 14 months has been his ability to focus and we’ve admired this from a distance”, McGinley added. “With everything going on, he’s still been able to churn out the performances and the wins in the last year.
“It’s quite incredible what he’s achieved. But what I saw today was tired. I saw a guy that didn’t have the same focus, a guy that was getting annoyed at himself, which was unlike him.
“He’s been front and centre of everything’s going on, and he’s the guy taking the bullets from the media more so than other players. I’d like to see more players out there as well to back it up.
“They can’t have just one spokesperson driving this ship forward, trying to get all the players on side… So, all of this takes its toll and I just see Rory is tired.
“It’s going to be a big ask to get back into this tournament. He says that he could shoot 65 tomorrow, but he’s still going to be well off the pace even at that. We saw some clumsiness from him today, and that’s a sign that you’re not focused.”
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