Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rory McIlroy has a talent that cannot be suppressed

The boy wonder from Holywood, Co Down, won his first professional event in dramatic circumstances in the Middle East early last year, which signalled his arrival as a serious contender in European golf while still a teenager.
Our expectations were always high for Rory McIlroy. From the time he gained his tour card off a few invitations a couple of years back to his maiden win in Dubai, he carried the hopes of European golf on his young shoulders. After his win they shot through the roof.
He was exceptionally cool in his pursuit of the Order of Merit title last year and never appeared to have his name off the leaderboard. His rise to the top 10 in the world rankings was rapid, although he never won again last year after Dubai he was in contention almost on a weekly basis. He coped with his position like an old pro, he said the right things and generally came across as a well-honed superstar.
The message seeped out early this year that Rory was prone to back trouble, which quickly deteriorated the more he played. After three weeks of successive events he was struggling to swing properly. This was a serious concern for a subtle young rubber man whose swing combines elegance with explosive power.
Rory is not the first golfer to have back problems. The golf swing is not exactly the most natural move. Much like ballet dancers have an exceptional ability to contort their bodies into exceptional positions, I have often looked at golfers repeatedly bashing balls on a range and marvelled at their strength and flexibility.
Given their long careers it is a priority they take as much care as possible of their backs and not end their careers early though excessive practice.
When I read Rory was struggling with his back I was concerned. When I heard him being interviewed after he missed the cut at Augusta last month I was even more concerned. The impression I got was that he was, at the tender age of 20, already disenchanted with the game at which he is so naturally gifted.
Fortunately the injury is a bone stress in the lower back and will likely right itself within six months. So apart from the short-term inconvenience and discomfort Rory should soon be as healthy and subtle as any other 21-year-old superstar.
Star players will invariably arrive at a crossroads in their careers (albeit not normally after such a short space of time) when their commitment is challenged. The game is undoubtedly easier when you play with the freedom of a playful teenager and a take-what-comes attitude. When his own expectations rise, on top of everyone else’s having been sky-high from the first sight of his tresses bulging out of his peaked cap, this can be a setback.
When you actually have time to think about a meteoric rise and wonder why you have reached a plateau when all you had been used to was upward momentum it must be shocking to a young star.
I feared Rory had discovered how difficult the game of golf really is and maybe yielded to that idea after the Masters. I really thought he was destined for a trough for some time.
How wrong I was. It took him less than a month to bounce back and win not just any old event but one of the US PGA tour’s premier tournaments on a quality golf course at Quail Hollow in North Carolina.
He just about made the cut, shot a wonderful 66 on the Saturday and a mind-blowing 62 on the Sunday to blitz the rest of the quality field and claim his second professional win but most importantly, first win in America. Without being too cheesy, if you can make it there you definitely can make it anywhere. Winners are always gracious to the crowd. In my experience, as a foreign player, America is the toughest place to win, the crowd always shouts louder for an American, no matter who you are.
There will be those who argue it is much easier to go out earlier on a Sunday, under the radar and shoot a really low round and waltz through the field while the gallery have yet to take their seats in the bleachers. They may have an argument. But with the final two holes at Quail Hollow each presenting ample opportunity for double bogeys, Rory must have felt some heat as he reached the end of his round.
It is only exceptional golfers who can produce such scores on such demanding golf courses under unrelenting competition. Rory quickly rediscovered his love for the game and embraced his rightful position on top of the leaderboard with fortitude, not fear.
What an impressive way for a young man to come out of a “slump”. Rory McIlroy is a raw talent who cannot be suppressed.
He has a humble and respectful demeanour about him off the course and has simple, grounded support from his parents and his coach, Michael Bannon. This is not to suggest he does not have the killer instinct needed once inside the ropes.
Rory seemingly likes showing the golfing crowd just how he can play. This is a vital attribute of a world-class golfer, especially when he is under pressure.
With a ground-breaking win in America under his belt but, more importantly, his love of the game rediscovered Rory is ready to show us how talented he really is on the fairways for decades to come



Post a Comment

<< Home

Copyright © Colin Farquharson

If you can't find what you are looking for.... please check the Archive List or search this site with Google