No sooner had Patrick Reed won the Masters and a first Major, Rory McIlroy’s second Augusta meltdown was turning into something akin the Spanish Inquisition.
Reed brushed aside McIlroy’s early final day challenge and then fended off compatriots Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth to become the fourth straight first-time winner of a Major and there are now growing questions over the worth of McIlroy’s caddy, Harry Diamond.
McIlroy had split with long-time J P Fitzgerald following last year’s Open Championship and had been inundated by ‘professional’ caddies but elected to choose best friend and also his ‘Best Man’, Harry Diamond.
And while the interaction between Reed and his caddy, along with Fowler and his caddy and also Spieth and his caddy seemed pivotal throughout the final Augusta round, not so with McIlroy.
Take McIlroy’s opening hole drive. A drive into the trees well right of the fairway that controversial Golf Channel analyst, Brandel Chamblee described as the ‘worst’ he’d ever from someone in the final group of a last day.
When in the trees McIlroy sized-up the situation without a hint of input from Diamond, simply saying to Diamond: “I think I’ll take a 9-iron”.
There was no other discussion other than for Diamond to remark ‘Yes’.
Of course, McIlroy did manage to save par but that was just four shots in a round of 74.
Chamblee has made a career being critical and some years back had to virtually get down on both knees issuing a groveling apology to Tiger Woods. But on this occasion Chamblee addressed what so many believed to be correct.
“The last time McIlroy left Augusta this disappointed was 2011 and then he went on a historical tear,” said Chamblee.
“Sometimes you need these moments to galvanize change. Rory changed after missing the cut at the Valspar and at the drop of a hat he changed his putting stroke. There are some things he needs to change in his golf swing stroke if he is to play golf the way he needs to play it.”
“Beyond that I would say every athlete is looking for that perfect balance of caring and not caring. Sometimes you get there by accident and sometimes you get there through effort but it’s never easy.”
“You get invited into Heaven but you know there is a bouncer there who is going to kick you out. Listening to Rory last night it was obvious to me he was really trying hard to defer the pressure onto Patrick and I thought it spoke volumes of the pressure he was under and it was evident from the very first swing he made.”
“That swing off the first tee was probably the worst tee shot in a final round of a Major, and in the final group of a Major, that I’ve ever seen and probably will ever see”.
Fellow former Open Champion, David Duval also tossed in his ‘Two Bob’s Worth’ in the most part agreeing with his fellow Golf Channel colleague.
Duval, who won the 2001 Open at Royal Lytham, first singled out the second hole that proved to be McIlroy’s downfall in not walking off with an eagle ‘3’ and also the decision not to go with driver off the uphill par-4 third hole that resulted in the first of six bogeys.
“Rory chose the wrong club off the third tee and with his power he should have just hit it right down in front of the green because that’s going to assure of making a par,” said Duval.
“When he spun his wedge off that third green, he’s chipping from where he would have driven the ball. He didn’t take advantage of what he does best, which is drive the golf ball.”
“Overall, I was surprised and I expected a lot more from Rory. It goes to show that nobody is exempt from the pressures and the crunch of trying to win Major Championships let alone complete the career Grand Slam.”
“You could definitely see that there was a ‘hold on’ in his golf swing. There was ‘hold on’ also in his putting stroke and the free flowingness that he had down at Bay Hill and that he had for the first three days at Augusta was a little tighter.”
“You expect that but I expected a lot more from Rory than he showed us. There is no way around it and hitting just eight greens in regulation over the final round will never get it done. Rory just needs to sharpen things up.”
“This is going to be a tough one for Rory to handle and it’s going to keep stacking on as the years go by as he doesn’t win the Masters, and there is no one to say he will for sure. We all believe Rory will win the Grand Slam and I believe he can play this golf course, and I believe he will one day win on this golf course but it doesn’t mean he will.”
McIlroy will celebrate his first wedding anniversary later this week and will not tee-up again till the May 3rd commencing Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina.