After reading an article on Bleacher Report, which originally came from Golf.com that Jack Nicklaus, while being interviewed at Wimbledon had said Rory McIlroy has lost his hunger to win, I realized he was right. I had suspicions to that effect, but it is always good to get another opinion, especially when it comes from an 18 time Major Champion on the PGA Golf Tour.
Let’s face it, changing equipment probably had an early effect on the 23 year-old, but youngsters figure things out quickly these days. I think the Nike problem lies in McIlroy’s bank account, and not his putter. $250 Million dollars tends to zap the hunger to win from a person, and can render them almost mortal.
This is not the first time in history that a professional athlete has faded after signing a huge contract. All one needs to do is look at Albert Pujols who got a $10 Million dollar, ten-year contract from the Los Angles Angles last year. Granted, Pujols is in the latter stages of his career, but the contract has turned a career .300 power hitter into an average Joe who is struggling to hit .250.
As the Golden Bear pointed out in his interview with Mats Wilander on Live at Wimbledon, Rory has abandoned his old life that included hitting a bunch of golf balls everyday, working out on a regular basis, and spending hours on a putting green. He now has too much going in his life including a Globe hopping Tennis Star girlfriend, and a huge bank account. He doesn’t need to practice, and he isn’t hungry anymore.
The reason Tiger Woods has won 14 major tournaments, and is angry everytime he hits a bad shot, is that he is still motivated after all of these years. Obviously, Tiger’s appetite is not satisfied(let’s keep this about golf) with a huge bank account, and a good-looking athlete girl-friend, his satisfaction only comes from winning golf tournaments, and that in a nutshell is the difference between the two players.
The next time you hear Nick Faldo ranting about how Rory McIlroy messed with a winning formula when he changed clubs, and that has to be the crux of his problems, just remember what Jack said about what drives Tiger Woods, and what drove the likes of Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and himself. Ask yourself if Rory looks hungry anymore?
I think that until we see Rory with that look in his eye that ran away with the US Open at Congressional in 2011, and the one he had when he destroyed the field at Kiawah Island last August, we will continue to see him miss cuts in big tournaments, and play poorly. Now we have something else to blame it on, and not his golf clubs.
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