PAUL McGinley says that Rory McIlroy should take inspiration from some of the greats of the game as he attempts to play his way out of the desperate slump in form that has seen him swap his untouchable status of a year ago to that of the also-ran this season.
Among others, McGinley said that McIlroy should look at the back story of Tom Watson, the American Ryder Cup captain and McGinley’s counterpart. “My views are very clear on Rory,” said the Dubliner. “There hasn’t been a player in the history of the game who has not gone through peaks and troughs. Rory has pretty much had a vertical upwards trajectory, so it was only a matter of time before he had a bit of a downward spiral. But there is no doubt he will come back up again.
“All players go this way, whether it be Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods or Tom Watson. The game is not a constant vertical climb. Rory has had a bit of a dip but he will come back. Tom went through one. Jack had a long period of time between winning one major and the next. It comes and goes and some people come out of it very quickly.”
There was a gap of three years between Watson winning his third major (the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977) and his fourth (the Open at Muirfield in 1980), the difference being that the American was knocking on the door in the meantime, finishing second twice in the Masters, second in the USPGA and third in the US Open. McIlroy’s form has fallen off a cliff by comparison. The last time he finished in the top five of any tournament was back in April when he was second in the Texas Open. And that’s his only top-five finish all season.
“He will not be sitting back on his laurels,” said Europe’s Ryder Cup captain. “He’ll be practising hard. It’ll come back and things in his head will just click into place. I’m nonchalant about the whole thing because I have seen it in so many careers. It comes and it goes.
“I can’t remember where I saw it, maybe in a golf magazine, but Tom Weiskopf said: ‘The thing about this game is that, when I am playing well, I can never understand why I ever played badly. And, when I am playing badly, I can never understand why I played well’. Anyone who plays the game, from a top player to a 20-handicapper, can all relate to that quote. I think Rory is no different and he will come out of it.”