Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Faldo: McIlroy should focus on golf

Rory McIlroy, pictured, should focus on golf and nothing else, according to Sir Nick Faldo
Rory McIlroy, pictured, should focus on golf and nothing else, according to Sir Nick Faldo

Six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo has told world number two Rory McIlroy he has 20 years at the top to win as much as he can and should be concentrating solely on golf.

In the last six months the 24-year-old Northern Irishman, whose high-profile relationship with tennis player Caroline Wozniacki has also come in for some criticism, has changed equipment suppliers and management company.

He has not won in that time and since finishing eighth at the Players Championship in May he has missed the cut at the BMW PGA Championship, tied for 57th at Memorial, finished 41st at the US Open and missed the cut at the Irish Open.

After that last appearance he departed determined to discover the right driver which worked for him and now claims, after testing at Nike's London base, he has done just that. But although recently Faldo has criticised the Northern Irishman's decision to change his clubs it is his overall focus which is now the target.

"I actually think it's a lot going on in his mind," said the three-time Open champion, two of which were won at this week's venue Muirfield in 1987 and 1992. "You need 100 per cent concentration, off the golf course, practicing, as well.

"Most ideal I can think is to go to the club at nine in the morning, hit balls all day long, and leave at five. You have to do that. You have a 20-year window of opportunity as an athlete. Concentrate on golf, nothing else."

Faldo admits his chances of success this week are limited to making the weekend, which in itself will be a significant ask considering his last competitive round came at St Andrews in the 139th Open Championship in 2010 where he missed the cut on nine over. But he believes the current crop of younger professionals are the best prepared of any generation.

"I'm 56 on Thursday. About two months ago I was at my gym at home and I thought 'You're just strong enough to have a go. It might be the last chance I get to walk with fellow Open champions'.

"But when you see the test that they've prepared you start grand ideas of survival, of how close to the cut could I get? That would be impressive for a guy that hasn't hit a competitive shot for three years."

On the younger, fitter competitors he is up against Faldo added: "These kids, they've got it all now. They have this knowledge, it's not a guess any more - in our era we were still guessing. They all have the knowledge and understanding of the game."

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