Rory McIlroy has won the U.S. Open, he’s won the PGA Championship and he’s won the Open Championship. That means that McIlroy, at 26, is one Augusta National win from a career Grand Slam.
That should be cause for joy, not stress.
Something just needs to tell that to McIlroy.
“I think there’s no player that has more pressure on himself and is putting more pressure on himself this week than Rory McIlroy, and I’ll be honest with you – I don’t like it,” Golfweek Magazine senior writer David Dusek said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Rory McIlroy was very clear after he won the PGA Championship a year-and-a-half-ago at Valhalla that he was already starting the quads. He was still at that golf club in Kentucky hoisting up the Wanamaker Trophy saying, ‘I want Augusta. I want to complete the career Grand Slam.’ He didn’t get it done last year. It was an up-and-down year for him, and then all eyes turned toward this week and this tournament. He has said openly that he needs to be less hard on himself. He holds on to bad shots too long and that’s hurting his play.”
McIlroy has said winning the Masters would be the highlight of his career and that he knows winning it will only get harder as the years go by.
That’s very honest of McIlroy. It’s also very alarming.
“He’s throwing all of his chips into the middle of the table right now,” Dusek said. “He’s got the game to do it, there’s no question about it. He’s also has a propensity to throw up a stinker of a round every year at the Masters. He has one round where he goes high 70s and blows himself out and basically erases the other three rounds of great golf. He’s done one of those rounds almost every year he’s been on the property. I think the way Rory McIlroy gets the career Grand Slam is he sneaks up – as much as a guy who’s No. 3 in the world can sneak up – and go in kind of loosey-goosey and let it fly. He’s got so much talent off the tee and he can be a streaky good putter that putting all this pressure on himself – letting everybody know, ‘Look, this is the tournament that I want more than anything else. This is the one that’s going to mean the most to me long term.’ – it just does nothing but put more and more pressure (on himself).
“Even if he feels it, don’t say it,” Dusek continued. “Just hold it in, let everybody else talk about (Jordan) Spieth, let them talk about Jason Day, let them talk about how good Phil Mickelson has played, Adam Scott and all those other guys, and you just slide in there and play good golf and let’s see what happens. I don’t like all the talk about the pressure and ‘This is the one I have to have.’”
McIlroy is taking this week so seriously that he skipped the Pat 3 on Wednesday to focus and get his mind right.
“I have no doubt that at some point in his career he’s going to win a Masters or two – at least,” Dusek said. “The talent is not going to be denied. I just think that there’s too much pressure he puts on himself. . . . (He skipped) the Par 3 and all the fun (everyone had). You’re skipping out on tradition and potentially a chance to have a good time and relax a little bit because you say that you’ve got to focus on winning. I think that’s a bad sign.”