McIlroy's 'Mental Block' Making It 'Harder And Harder' To Complete Career Slam - Former Agent

Rory McIlroy's former agent Chubby Chandler says the pressure of going for the Grand Slam makes it harder for him to win The Masters

Rory McIlroy with his former manager Chubby Chandler
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The self-imposed pressure Rory McIlroy puts on winning the career Grand Slam is making it tougher for him to win The Masters, says his former agent Chubby Chandler, who also feels his new role as “a mouthpiece for the PGA Tour” is damaging his chances of winning the Green Jacket.

As well as commercial commitments and fighting the PGA Tour’s corner, Chandler believes that McIlroy’s off-course roles and responsibilities may have cost him up to 10 tournament wins.

Chandler points to McIlroy’s younger years when his carefree attitude and high draw was the ideal recipe for success around Augusta National, but his increased profile and influence on the PGA Tour has hindered him in the first Major of the year.

As one of the best golfers on the planet, McIlroy is now a huge business with sponsors who could take up his time, but Chandler says it’s the self-imposed pressure to complete the Grand Slam that is holding him back.

“If you were a betting man you would probably bet against him winning. He has made winning the Grand Slam a bigger thing in his head than it actually is,” Chandler told i news.

“He is not really driven by number of wins or number of majors per se, but he seems to be driven by wanting to win the Grand Slam. It’s a massive mental block and it’s getting harder and harder. Every time he gets there he has the pressure from everyone else, but also from himself.

“If you could see into his head back in the days when he was flying around Augusta there was nothing in there other than hitting a golf ball. Now he has commitments with PGA Tour, where he has been groomed as a political figurehead, with TV, with half a dozen really big sponsors.

“And they take up time. That clutter manifests itself on the course. He needs to get away from a lot of that, and just trust his talent.”

Chandler added that McIlroy leading the PGA Tour’s charge against LIV Golf is also another adverse factor working against the four-time Major winner – including his on-course interview at The Masters, where he missed the cut.

“To me he has got carried away as mouthpiece of the PGA Tour,” Chandler added. “He is doing things he shouldn’t be doing and opening his mouth too often.

McIlroy wearing an airpod during The Masters for an on-course interview

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“The interview on the fairway, absolutely brilliant TV but not good for Rory McIlroy. You can’t be having a chat with a guy in the commentary box about the day and the way he is playing, or whatever, then get over a wedge and give it 100 per cent.

“You would never have got Nicklaus doing it. You would never have got Tiger doing it.”

In perhaps a dig at McIlroy not having him as his manager any more, Chandler says that there’s a chance the Northern Irishman has too many yes men in his camp, which could have cost him tournaments.

“He employs everybody around him. He has not got anyone to say that’s not right, why are you saying that, why are you doing this? None of that.

“Fair play, he is his own man, he makes his own mistakes and apologises for them. But some of the stuff he is doing is not helping him and it comes at a cost, and that is probably another 10 tournament wins.”

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.