McGinley doesn’t see any reason for concern over McIlroy’s form
McIlroy will use today’s pro-am to get familiar with a course he knows well from his amateur days
Paul McGinley is confident Rory McIlroy will bounce back to form after disappointing run. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
The finger shouldn’t even hover over any panic button. Not as far as Paul McGinley is concerned. Not when it comes to Rory McIlroy, who has struggled to replicate the form of a year ago that saw him dominate world golf.
“I don’t think Rory is ever going to be a flat-line golfer, I think it’s in his DNA to be up-and-down,” observed European Ryder Cup captain McGinley, ahead of the Irish Open which gets under way at Carton House tomorrow and where McIlroy is the headline act, the poster boy.
This has been a difficult year so far for the so-called ‘Boy Wonder’: McIlroy’s on-course form, which at one point saw him walk out of the Honda Classic, his decision to change clubs in a multi-million dollar deal with Nike and his fall-out with management company Horizon, have all contrived to leave more questions unanswered than answered for the world number two.
Reason for concern
But McGinley – who will captain Europe in next year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles – doesn’t see any reason for concern, despite McIlroy’s recent run taking in a missed cut at the BMW PGA at Wentworth last month followed by a tied-57th in the Memorial and a tied-41st place at the US Open in Merion.
As the Dubliner expanded, “If you look at him this time last year, the same questions were coming. Why has Rory gone off form? He missed three or four cuts in a row, (and) he’s this and that. And all of a sudden, he wins the USPGA and he’s off (and running).
“It’s in his DNA, he’s never going to be a Nick Faldo who is going to flat-line and I think we have to accept that and let him get on with it. He’ll come through the bit of a trough he has had and he’ll come through and have success again. I don’t see Rory as a flat-line player, I just think that’s going to be part of his career for the rest of his life.”
McGinley was a vice-captain to Jose Maria Olazabal at the Ryder Cup in Medinah last year and got to witness up-close the adulation given to McIlroy by fans in the USA.
“I was really taken aback, it was like being with a rock star when you’re walking (with him) from the green to a tee or hanging around for the courtesy cars.
Hundreds of people
“There would be hundreds of people hanging over the barriers shouting his name and looking for his autograph and it’s the same every week in America for him. (It was) a real eye opener for me.”
For sure, McIlroy has that sort of appeal that makes him stand out from the crowd. As McGinley put it: “Everybody is different and one of the reasons why he is so exciting is that he’s up-and-down (in form). That’s one of the reasons why Seve was so exciting, he was up-and-down too. I think that’s the X-Factor Rory has, he can win every week!
“He’s got the game. He knows that, and when he gets that feeling and feels comfortable and things start clicking for him, he gets on his Rolls Royce performance and heads off into the distance.
“That can happen at any time . . . I think his career is going to have peaks and troughs, him more so than most people, and it’s actually not a bad way to be because, when you’re hot, you’re really hot,” said McGinley.
McGinley’s assessment of McIlroy’s propensity to mix highs with lows was expanded on by Pádraig Harrington. “The great thing about Rory is he is only ever one golf shot away from playing great. He’s proved that numerous times in his short career . . . all he has to do is embrace that the highs will be very high and not worry about the lows.
“Embrace it, and accept it. It will make for a lot less stress in between . . . he’s not mediocre in any shape or form and that’s why he never plays mediocre. He either plays great or he doesn’t,” said Harrington.
As for the man himself? McIlroy – who hasn’t played since the US Open – flew in last evening and will use today’s pro-am to get familiar with a course he knows well from his amateur days.