Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Rory McIlroy wants to be the ringmaster in golf's circus

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

VIRGINIA WATER, ENGLAND - MAY 24:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts as it rains during the second round of the BMW PGA Championship on the West Course at Wentworth on May 24, 2013 in Virginia Water, England.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
VIRGINIA WATER, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts as it rains during the second round of the BMW PGA Championship on the West Course at Wentworth on May 24, 2013 in Virginia Water, England. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

It was fascinating at Wentworth to hear Rory McIlroy pluck a truism from the Big Top. "If you want to be in the circus," said McIlroy, "you've got to put up with the clowns."

McIlroy's week at Wentworth was dominated by the side issue of his impending departure from Dublin management company Horizon Sports to set up his own back-room team comprising family, friends and close confidants.

The World No 2 brought in the clowns when asked on TV if speculation generated by this baffling latest development in his career had affected him? Yet in the absence of any explanation or obvious reason for the split, it's difficult to comprehend why he'd make this move at this time in the season.

All the shenanigans obscured the central question – why has McIlroy's form fallen off a cliff in 2013?

His eye-opening decision to change all 14 clubs in his bag in January doesn't explain why he's failed to perform anywhere close to full potential in all but a handful of 34 competitive rounds in 2013.

Poor scheduling has been an obvious factor. The stop-start nature of his season so far has left McIlroy without momentum – though, conversely, it may ensure his reserves are topped up for the long, hot summer.

An intensive programme over the next 12 weeks could help McIlroy find top gear for July's Open at Muirfield; the defence of his US PGA crown at Oak Hill and late-season climax of America's FedEx Cup.

Even as a double Major winner, McIlroy probably would benefit more from firm and sage professional guidance (as a golfer) than the opportunity to exercise yet more control over his affairs.

Yet McIlroy not only yearns to top the bill at his circus, he also likes to crack the whip.

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