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Golfing legend Alliss backs McIlroy to hit form again

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Invited here by Tourism Ireland, as part of its Home of Champions golf promotions in Great Britain and elsewhere around the world, Peter Alliss visited and recorded footage of some of Northern Ireland's iconic golf courses and facilities  including Royal Portrush

Invited here by Tourism Ireland, as part of its Home of Champions golf promotions in Great Britain and elsewhere around the world, Peter Alliss visited and recorded footage of some of Northern Ireland's iconic golf courses and facilities including Royal Portrush

Invited here by Tourism Ireland, as part of its Home of Champions golf promotions in Great Britain and elsewhere around the world, Peter Alliss visited and recorded footage of some of Northern Ireland's iconic golf courses and facilities including Royal Portrush

Rory McIlroy should stop messing about with his swing and trust in his God-given talents if he wants to end his recent run of poor form, says top golf broadcaster Peter Alliss.

The Voice of Golf paid a quick visit to Royal Portrush on the eve of the Irish Open last week and — true to form — was able to offer a few well considered thoughts on everything from the chances of the Open returning to the north Antrim coast to the state of McIlroy's game.

“I don't really understand these players who are constantly tinkering with their swings,” he said relaxing in the Portrush clubhouse and chatting with the exuberance of a man still very much in love with the sport.

“I think McIlroy is a huge talent and everything seems to suggest that he has a very good golfing brain to go with that.

“The only thing that goes wrong is when he tries to hit the ball too hard and he's very much like Seve Ballesteros in that respect.

“Look at Padraig Harrington who won three majors and was playing brilliantly and then he took it all to pieces.

“These mental things are their problem and they should try to change their thought patterns, not their swings.”

In the build-up to the Irish Open much has been made of the fact that it has been 51 years since the tournament was held at Belvoir and 53 since the Open was at Portrush.

For Alliss, they are not merely dates from the distant past but fond memories as he played in both, finishing third at Belvoir behind Scotsman Eric Brown.

“Back then you had to qualify at the start of the week, play rounds on the Wednesday and Thursday and two on the Friday,” he recalled.

“You try telling the young fellows of today to play two rounds in one day and they think that you are making it up.

“At Belvoir there was a short hole, the 15th or 16th, and Eric had a one, two, two and a three there and he beat Bobby Locke by one and me by two and that was the hole that won it for him.”

Alliss was in Ulster making a programme for Tourism Ireland on our iconic golf courses, including Royal Portrush and Royal County Down and he also paid a visit to Darren Clarke's golf academy at Greenmount.

He was of course on commentary duty last summer as Clarke won the Open Championship for the first time and says that it was one of the most emotional occasions he can recall from a career spanning over 50 years.

“It was one of the most romantic wins not least because of his troubles with his wife getting cancer,” he said.

“The golfing gods were with him, no doubt about that.

“He bounced a few bunkers and holed a few unlikely putts.

“But at the end of the day he was the champion and people really enjoyed his victory.”

Clarke is desperate to recapture that form in time for the Open at his home Portrush course, but Alliss reckons that victory at Sandwich could well be the swansong to his career.

“He won at something like 43 years of age and there aren't many things you do better after you hit 40, “ he said.

“Some things, but not many.

“Vijay Singh didn't hit his best until after he was 40 but you have to be realistic in life.

“Darren's not going to go and pack it all in after winning arguably the greatest championship in the world, but in this game if you are not doing well, you are not getting paid.

“It's not like a footballer who is injured and not playing and his wages are still coming in every week.”

Alliss has nothing but praise for Royal Portrush and the European Tour's decision to bring the Irish Open back again.

“It is one of the great golf courses in the world, as simple as that,” he said.

“When you think it was laid out 100 odd years ago and has very few alterations, it has stood the passing of time quite magnificently.”

He would love to see the Open Championship return but fears the curse of the modern age — health and safety — might put paid to it.

“I come from a generation when kids climbed trees and you drank water out of a hosepipe when health and safety was just common sense,” he said.

“The R&A wouldn't want to limit crowds at the Open to 27,000 people which is what it will be for the Irish Open because their motto has always been to have as many people as want to come.

“I still think it would be worth bringing the Championship here if that was the number of people who could be accommodated, although at the same time it wouldn't be quite as magical, not quite so grand.

“And you have to be realistic. The players of today are not going to come and four of them share a caravan or go and stay at the B&B down the road, that's not going to happen,” he added.

Belfast Telegraph