‘Distractions’ are not spoiling Rory McIlroy – the ball is just not dropping

Apparently the desire to be with the girl he loves is bad for his golf

This is where it all started to go right for Rory McIlroy, the disappointments of spring and early summer morphed into the mother of all season finales. A top-five at the Bridgestone was followed a week later by victory at the USPGA to claim his second major. He could barely miss from there on in, winning twice in the FedEx play-offs and signing off the Race to Dubai in a blaze of birdies to top the money list on both sides of the Atlantic.

A year on McIlroy finds himself in the worst spot in sport, on the couch of scrutiny, where every aspect of his approach and character are dissected by the massed ranks of experts and commentators in order to come to a definitive truth about the crisis in his game. He will love the latest contribution from Gary Player, who counsels him to get a wife sharpish and stick with her all the way to the 19th hole, after all it never did him any harm.

At the Open recently Sir Nick Faldo advised him to concentrate on the golf, to cut out the “distractions”. For the uninitiated, distractions are the elements in his personal life that are dragged up to account for poor play. A popular target in McIlroy’s case is his relationship with tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki. Apparently the desire to spend time with the girl he loves is somehow counter-productive, it gets in the way of his golf.

Eh? Graeme McDowell attributed his best performance since his US Open triumph three years ago, victory at the Heritage in April, to the presence of family and friends. After missing the cut at the Masters, an event for which he said he was over-prepared, he journeyed to Hilton Head with his fiancée, members of her family, his parents, took two houses and barbecued his way to victory. There were no post-round sessions on the range beating balls that week. It was straight back to the shack to crack open the beers. He beat Webb Simpson in a play-off to claim his first title as a full member of the PGA Tour.

Similarly, after his victory at the US Open this year Justin Rose played one tournament then retreated to the bosom of his family for a fortnight before pitching up at Muirfield for the Open. No one gave him a shelling about family “distractions” when he missed the cut.

Another stick with which to beat McIlroy relates to his business affairs. Someone is certainly in a muddle here. McIlroy is presently engaged in separating from one management company in order to set up his own. Like many elite sportsmen the man has absurd wealth. This confers many an advantage, not least the capacity to delegate. Facing an eviction order for failing to pay the rent might impact negatively on the mood of a golfer on the first tee. I can see that. But paying one lawyer to negotiate with another to get him exactly what he wants seems to me to be a winning position in this thing called life.

And then there is the deal with Nike. This was the killer issue for Faldo. Why chuck away the magic of a winning relationship with one manufacturer for the uncertainty of another? This might have had a short-term consequence but nothing insurmountable. McIlroy could get his ball round with an old mashie. Besides if things were critical in this domain, he could follow the well-trodden path of badging the old driver with a new logo. Hey presto, no one would ever know.

McIlroy’s problem is every player’s problem. It’s called form. And no game demands more of body and mind than golf. The physics of the golf swing requires the kind of precision that no human being can hope to repeat ad infinitum. At some point rhythm breaks down and has to be rediscovered. This is the endless cycle that claims the best of them. Brandt Snedeker could not hit a barn door with beach ball a few months back and on Saturday he shot a 63 to lead in Canada by two strokes. 

If stability is really the issue, consider this. McIlroy’s father and mother, the people who really matter, who nurtured him, who know him best, who keep him grounded, are at his side at most tournaments. McIlroy is 24 years old, and all that comes with it; impulsive, headstrong, excitable, hedonistic, indulgent. What crusty old has-been would not want that kind of distraction in their lives again?

All these inherent drivers were present when the putts were dropping. Only when they stop are they used in evidence against him. Let the lad be. He will work it out. And when he does it won’t be because he has life neatly parcelled up, it will be because the ball is finding the cup. That’s sport. The common experience in golf is failure. Three wins a year from 20-odd events is considered a hot streak. He should know. He has more than most. And guess what? It’s Bridgestone week again.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam