McGinley: Biggest Challenge McIlroy Faces Is Expectation

McIlroy's biggest challenge in winning Majors again is the expectation he faces as the World's No.1 golfer

McGinley: Biggest Challenge McIlroy Faces Is Expectation
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McIlroy's biggest challenge in winning Majors again is the expectation he faces as the World's No.1 golfer, according to Paul McGinley

McGinley: Biggest Challenge McIlroy Faces Is Expectation

Rory McIlroy reclaimed the World's No.1 spot earlier this year for the first time in five years and he'll certainly be hoping to reclaim his Major-winning form when the golf season gets back up-and-running.

Rory has won 12 times since the start of 2015 but none of those victories have been in Majors, whilst in that time frame he has seen his rivals Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka win a combined seven.

McIlroy has won three of the four Majors, with four wins coming at the 2011 US Open, the 2012 and 2014 USPGA Championships and the 2014 Open Championship.

Since then he has had ten top-10 finishes in golf's big four events but he is still chasing Major No.5, so what is it that has been missing?

Europe's 2014 winning Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley told the Golf Monthly Clubhouse Podcast that the expectation Rory faces is his "biggest challenge."

"The biggest challenge McIlroy faces at the moment and all players face this when they get to the top - Jordan Spieth has faced it as well and he is struggling with the same thing. When you make a name for yourself and you have a reputation and when you’re as good as McIlroy is, and when everybody else knows you’re the best player, and you look up and down the range and you hit the ball better than anyone, and everybody recognises you as the number one player in the world, that’s a tough place to be in because it brings a lot of expectation," McGinley told Golf Monthly

"He knows as well as anybody at the end of his career, he’s going to be rated against how many Major Championships he won, he knows the pressure that they exert.

"And getting over that expectation level, dealing with that expectation level, playing under the influence of that expectation is an incredibly difficult thing. And I think that’s where Rory struggles at this moment in time.

McIlroy was T2nd at the 2018 Open at Carnoustie

"I think when he came on Tour earlier in his career and he had that flurry of Major wins that was, he was a little bit naive.

"He was doing it without thinking about it. He’s mature now, he’s more of a deep thinker, he’s older now so I believe when he gets over the next hurdle of winning a Major championship, with this expectation on his shoulders where he is now in his career he will see that this will be the template.

"He will figure out a new template of dealing with this pressure and when he gets that and believes in that he will go on to win a number of Majors after that, so that’s where he is at.

A final round 74 wasn't what he was looking for in the final group of the 2018 Masters. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)%MCEPASTEBIN%

"It is not just unique to Rory, Jordan Spieth is really wrestling with it at the moment, you know Brooks Koepka, the way he started out this year you can see everyone is looking at him now when it comes to Major Championships there is massive pressure on him to perform.

However, McGinley doesn't think that Rory can't handle the pressure and expectation, believing that he'll win a "flurry" of Majors once he re-finds the blueprint.

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"That’s a difficult place to be in but its not insurmountable and when McIlroy figures out how to play with these expectations on him, in Major Championships, I know he does it a lot in other tournaments, but when he manages to do it in Major Championships, when the heat is really on, when the spotlight is on, when he is expected to win in the last group and comes through the other side with massive expectation on his shoulders externally and internally, that’s when I think he will go on to win not just one Major Championship but he’ll win a flurry of them after that because what we know of McIlroy his he is a very very good learner.

"When he learns how to do something, it beds in."

Listen to our exclusive interview with Paul McGinley below (McGinley speaks on Rory McIlroy at 18 minutes):

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Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2 HL

Irons: Mizuno MP-H4 3-iron, Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5