Golf Expert & Columnist
Rory McIlroy can move on quickly from Quail Hollow disappointment
Last Updated: 07/05/19 7:03am
Rory McIlroy's right. Golf does not have to define him as a person, and if he rationalises another genuinely shocking Sunday by seeing it as not a big deal in the overall scheme of things, then he's right about that too.
We can all resort to that philosophical view when we're trying to mask the pain of disappointing everyday experiences, so Rory's no different. But honestly, what a miserable way for him to spend the first day of his thirties.
The first day of what many believe will be the golden era for a young man who's already done not too badly in his twenties. I'm not sure there would have been too many champagne corks popping on the private jet back to Florida on Sunday night.
If only Rory could chill out for a while and then simply arrive on the first tee on the first morning of the PGA championship ready to go, no questions asked. But we all know it doesn't work like that and no one understands that more than Rory himself.
He knows that every mistake he makes in golf leads to further interrogation about life. Nobody actually says it to his face but what they're all asking is: "What's wrong with Rory McIlroy?"
I've been asked that question a hundred times in recent years, sometimes with genuine concern, sometimes with scorn. My answer has always been the same. Rory has a life, simple as that.
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It was gratifying to hear that view confirmed by Rory in the build-up to the Masters when he said he didn't want his life to be defined by golf. He spoke at length about how happy he is and what a great life he has and how that is not impacted by whether he wins or doesn't win.
In the main, his points were well received, but, of course, there is a cynical view that all of this is psycho-babble wrapped up nicely in a bespoke positive thinking package.
Everyone's entitled to their opinion but, believe me, the cynics don't really know Rory McIlroy and they find him difficult to fathom.
They justifiably scrutinise him at press conferences, ask him the most awkward questions they can about his frailties in pressurised situations and, yet, generally they are met by Rory's best qualities, his intelligence and his good nature.
We will see all that played out once again in the days leading up to the PGA Championship.
I'm sure no one will deny Rory's brilliant form in the first quarter of the year and his imperious win at Sawgrass but another failure to deliver at the Masters and another wheels-off the stagecoach at Wells Fargo will have to be addressed.
Rory knows only too well he'll have to do a lot of talking before he gets to that first tee on the Thursday morning.
Evidently, this recurring theme has been on my own mind recently. I had a dream last week that Rory had won his fifth major championship but I didn't see him hit a shot or lift a trophy. The dream simply revolved around Rory talking about his win.
I assume this was a reaction to having watched Rory go through his now annual ordeal at the Masters, discussing interminably his latest crack at the Grand Slam.
It was pleasing, then, to see him get off to such a great start in Charlotte and put himself in what's always for him a comfortable two-shots back position going into the final round.
Only Rory knows what happened after that. Maybe he watched his Man United team play so poorly before he started, but, certainly, his two chips on the 10th would not have escaped the scathing scrutiny of a golfing Gary Neville.
The difference is Rory can put things right almost immediately whereas his football team may have to wait years.
Young McIlroy, and remember how young he is at 30, has his sporting destiny in his own hands. He already has a sound sense of perspective but what he probably needs is an even better balance between life and golf.
He probably thinks that's perfect at the moment, but the fact is there's always room for improvement.
There's no shame in letting his ruthless inner competitor bully the decent human being on a Sunday afternoon at a Major.
Until then, as a belated 30th birthday present, let's give Rory a break.