Rory McIlroy, Another Wasted Talent?

Is Rory McIlroy the next great choke artist in golf?

Rory McIlroy cemented his place in Masters history but not in the way that he would have liked. McIlroy did his best magic act as he disappeared off of the leaderboard faster than you could say Augusta. The young Irish “phenom” was the first player in a major to blow a four shot lead after three rounds in a major since the infamous Jean Van De Velde meltdown.

The excuses will be endless for Rory McIlroy especially considering his seemingly great rapport with the media. He’s too young, inexperienced, everyone has a bad day, Tiger was prowling, or maybe even it was too hot outside for the Irishman. The list is endless. Either way, those excuses may hold water for the time being but the big question that should be on everyone’s mind is whether McIlroy is another great golf talent cursed with the spell of the choke?

One bad round in an otherwise steady Masters tournament generally wouldn’t signal as much cause for concern, however this isn’t the first time that McIlroy has faltered under the pressure of a major. McIlroy shot a 9 under par 63 at St. Andrews in the 2010 first round of the British Open only to follow that up with an 80 in round two. He shot a 68 and 69 respectively over next two days, which left him in a tie for 3rd place.

It’s a scary thought to see the supposed next star in golf already having major issues with his nerves. After a couple of poor shots today McIlroy’s psyche was snapped like a fragile twig. That doesn’t happen to the great ones.

Nicklaus or Tiger aren’t collapsing the way McIlroy did yesterday afternoon. Even at 21.

It isn’t just the complete, utter breakdown that McIlroy went through. Of the golfers who sat above 4 under par to finish the tournament, there were only two other players on Sunday who shot over par. Those players were Fred Couples and Ross Fisher who ended up tied for 15th with McIlroy at 4 under.

What does it say about a player who shot an 80 while no one above 2 under par shot worse than a 73?

Moreover, aside from a very good final few holes in round 3, McIlroy was at best steady after his remarkable first round. He had ample opportunity to grab the tournament by the neck but time after time was unable to take advantage. Don’t the great ones run away from the field?

It would be sad for golf if Rory McIlroy soon became equated with such names as Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and Anthony Kim. As I wrote in January, the PGA desperately needs another player to add to the Tiger-Mickelson couple but once again a challenger has yet to emerge.

As a fan it is frustrating to see guys constantly falter on Sunday. The days of excusing players based on the Tiger factor are over. It’s about time people start getting in through their thick heads that Tiger’s supposed God-like aura was not the reason golfers choke. The onus is all on the players themselves.

Tiger’s inability to step up in the manner that he has in the past has allowed more guys like Charl Schwartzel to “prove” that they have the chops, but what are the chances we see Schwartzel falling into the category of the Ben Curtis’ and Rich Beem’s of the world?

Rory McElroy needed nothing more than a half-decent round on Sunday to truly solidify his status as one of the PGA’s elite. The career defining win that has eluded the likes of Lee Westwood would have been a huge confidence booster for the 21-year-old McIlroy.

Maybe he just doesn’t have it in him. That’s not to say that he won’t ever win a major but with Gary Busey on the Celebrity Apprentice showing more mental stability than McIlroy it seems unlikely that this young talent will be anything more than a perennial underachiever.

With the amount of talent that this young man possesses it would be a shame to see it go to waste. In his short career Rory McElroy has shown nothing that should lead us to believe that he will be the next great thing in golf and it would appear as though he is going to have to pull a rabbit out of his hat if he wants to win a major anytime soon.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. You can also follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favor.

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19 Responses to Rory McIlroy, Another Wasted Talent?

  1. It’s not often that I disagree with you, Chris, but I would give McIlroy at least another shot. Granted, he did just bomb that last round, but how many guys have we seen do that? I don’t think he’s a wasted talent just yet, he’s just failed to show up under pressure. Remember, the guy’s 21. That’s a junior in college age. That’s only a few years older than you and I. I don’t know about you, but I definitely would have trouble with that kind of media hounding me like that.

  2. tophatal says:

    Chris Ross

    McIlroy is a wasted talent ? Who other than Woods as an American finished in the top ten ? You’re comment and title is almost valid as the idiocy shown by Johnny Miller when he stated that a European wasn’t good enough to win the Masters or any of the Majors . Perhaps Miller ought to have looked at the victory roster of the last eight Grand Slam majors ? Do you remember Dustin Johnson’s meltdown from last year ?

    US golf in terms of their young players is littered with hype and players who’ve got moderate talent ! You need to look at the rankings to see where the dominance now is ?

    tophatal …………..

  3. I have a feeling Rory will bounce back but either way, it was nearly unwatchable yesterday. Hope the kid can pick up the pieces and move forward. Easier said than done but something tells me his talent will make up for whatever nerves might be there. Maybe not at the next major, or the one after that…but one of these times I do feel that he will get it done.

  4. Jamie says:

    I’m going to have to agree with thenewsofsports. It’s too early in McIlroy’s career to call him a bust, or a choke artist. Remember, some great golfers didn’t truly peak until well into their career. Look at Phil Mickelson. He was 33 when he finally won his first major. Sam Snead was 30 when he won his first major at the PGA Championship.

    Golf is not necessarily a game where youth give you an edge. Really the only two golfers who had become so dominant so early in their careers were Tiger and Jack Nicklaus, who won their first majors when they were 21 and 22 respectively.

    I think it’s unfair to Rory to call him a choke artist or a wasted talent when you are comparing him to the two best golfers of all time. No one can pass that test.

    All that being said, I do enjoy reading your work. Keep it up.

  5. tophatal says:

    If McIlroy is a wasted talent then what does that say ’bout the likes of JP Howell and Ty Tyron ? What’ve they won and where are they in the rankings ? Are you serious or merely writing these pieces to generate volume ?

  6. hannable84 says:

    I don’t know man I have to disagree with this one. I think Rory will be back, and will win a major within a few years. He is too talented not to. He had never been in a position where he led a major in the final round, and that is a tough thing to do, and you need experience to be successful. As was shown on the telecast Mickelson said how tough it is to play with a lead on the back 9 at Augusta on Sunday, and that proved true for McIlroy as it all fell apart on the 10th hole. In fact both Sam Snead and Ken Venturi shot 80 in the final round in which they led, and look what their careers turned out to be. Rory will be back. Don’t worry.

    Thanks for checking out my blog and for everyone else here is my final round recap. http://sportsbeantown.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/masters-final-round-recap/

    • Chris Ross says:

      I completely understand why a lot of people seem to disagree with what I’m saying but I’m still going to stand by it. I mean what if the same thing was said about Sergio Garcia when he was young like McIlroy? I’m sure that would have generated a lot of anger. I haven’t dubbed him a wasted talent yet but I just don’t think these are good the British Open and Masters. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind being wrong in this case because it would be outstanding to have another real star in Golf but as of right now my knee-jerk reaction is that he’s not going to be that guy, even at this very young age.

  7. chappy81 says:

    I’m going to have to disagree about Rory like the other commentors. It’s not like he’s the first one to choke away a major. There’s been many like him before that took forever to get their first major win. We were spoiled with Tiger, but when you look at Phil it took him till he was 30 to win his first green jacket. Just like Dustin Johnson choked in the US Open last year, it’s not a big cause for concern.

  8. You’re really rushing to judgment here Chris. McIlroy is a 21 year old golfer who is still learning how to handle the courses he plays and the pressures of playing on tour, specifically in a major. Let’s not forget that this was the first time Rory was leading in a major heading into the final round and after 63 holes for that matter. Additionally, it’s not as if McIlroy has played well at Augusta National in the two previous Masters (missed cut in 2010, finished tied for 20th in 2009 and averaged 72.8 per round).

    After watching the entire tournament I believe that there were 3 factors which contributed to McIlroy’s unfortunate collapse:

    First, Rory wasn’t playing with Jason Day as he did during the first 3 rounds (never underestimated the positive energy from a pairing…just ask Adam Scott who played with Day on Sunday).

    Second, the slow pace of play on the front nine (five plus minute wait at times) must have been frustrating for McIlroy who prefers a quicker pace. It made me recalled how much Steve Marino’s performance on Sunday at this year’s AT&T was affected by the slowness of the groups in front of him.

    Third, it was the Sunday of a major championship and Rory was dealing with all the pressures that encompass having the lead. The result, McIlroy was tired and slightly frustrated coming off the 9th hole and everything unraveled on 10th.

    It remains to be seen how much success Rory will have, but let’s give him a few more years before calling him anywhere near a bust.

    http://sports-glutton.com/2011/04/11/2011-masters-the-most-dramatic-sunday-ever/

  9. I don’t know if he’s necessarily wasted at this point in his early career, but he sure hasn’t vaulted himself into the PGA elite like he could have, or maybe even should have.

    I didn’t see the collapse, I only caught the final 3 holes of Tiger’s round and everything after that, but to shoot an 80 on the final day when you are way ahead of the field…just terrible.

    He seemed to handle it well though, afterwards with the interviews, but its not always what you say, its what you do.

    http://www.lasportsminute.com

  10. Bheise says:

    it was an epic meltdown, one for the ages even. I think he’ll be ok, he’ll win a few tournaments, but in about 5 years he’ll have the label best player without a major. He’ll win tournaments, but it’s going to take him time to figure out how to excel on the biggest stages. I feel bad for the guy though. It was like watching myself meltdown in my golf league.

  11. tophatal says:

    Chris Ross

    Simply look at what you’re saying it makes no sense whatsoever ! This is the first time McIlroy has been in such a position . Do you remember Van der Velde’s meltdown at The Open some years back ? Which’d you say was worse in terms of the events that took place ?

    tophatal …………….

  12. I completely agree with you it was frustrating to watch Rory go down in flames. I think it does show you that he is mature for only being 21 in the way he handled the press afterwards. Hopefully this won’t be a regular thing and he will get past this nerves or bad round or whatever it was to become the great golfer he has the talent for.

  13. For a 21-year-old he has an awful lot of talent and it may take some time for him to refine his skills. Sure he was nervous, sure he lost he focus and he sure-as-heck did “choke”, but I there is plenty of time to learn from his mistakes and grow from them.

    If I remember correctly, when he won what I believe was the Dubai Dessert Classic two years ago, he had a five shot lead with five holes to go, and short-gamed his way to shoe-string victory. He was wobbly down the stretch, but he was able to survive and hoist the trophy.

    Not many 21-year-olds have the game to create a four stroke lead at the Masters after three rounds – that alone is a testament to his ability. I have to believe that there is no greater pressure in golf than leading the Masters in such a commanding fasion that everyone expects you to win. Give the kid a break and a little time, and he will find a way to get it done. He is passionate about his game and winning, and as long as he stays motivated I have no doubt we will see great things from him in the future. Don’t forget, he shot 62 on Sunday to win his only PGA Tour title at Quail Hollow, so the kid can get it done on Sunday!

    I have some thoughts on the matter as well, and would be interested in other opinions: http://stevenkafchinski.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/handling-defeat-with-dignity/

  14. Alex C says:

    Hey man, great blog! Thank you for your reply on mine a few days ago!! I’m not sure I’d say that Rory is already a choke artist although it may seem that way. I grew up a golfer and I definitely understand the ups and downs and the impact of pressure, of course not quite like that. He is a talented young golfer who may be setting a trend towards the new era of golf, including others like Rickie Fowler and Ryo Ishikawa. The new generation of golfers are going to experience victories here pretty soon, they just have to start somewhere (inside the U.S.).

    Quick question: What theme did you use for your page? Thanks.

  15. I agree and disagree. I disagree in the sense that he’s only 21 and he has a lot of golf to play. I agree for that same reason. Golf is a very mental game and I would assume that this has to be an awfully big blow to a 21 year old’s self esteem, leading one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world 3/4 of the way through, then crashing and burning. It’s hard to wrap your head around losing like that at such a young age.

  16. ian richards says:

    you were very wrong

  17. tophatal says:

    Chris

    He’s wasted alright ? So much so that he p_ssed on the entire field at the US Open that he left them in his wake ! Next time take some time and check out the guy’s pedigree .

    tophtal …………..

  18. alastair says:

    Oops!

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