A year ago, Rory McIlroy sat atop the golfing world, fresh off his second major title at the PGA Championship. It’s been a different story in 2013 as the former world no. 1 has dropped to no. 6 in the official world rankings.
His year will be remembered not as much for his somewhat forgettable season and more for incidents like his “toothache” at the Honda Classic and his off-course dramas — whether it was with his ex(?)-girlfriend tennis player Caroline Wozniacki and parting ways with his management company that has resulted in a nightmarish legal battle.
McIlroy, who is set to defend his title at the Race to Dubai this week, finally spoke publicly about how these distractions have impacted his performance on the golf course, according to the Guardian’s Ewan Murray:
“Definitely, there have been a few things that have impacted,” he said. “Obviously there have been a few different things to think about and different things occupy your head that really shouldn’t. But, you know, it’s just the way it is and the position that I am in. It’s something that will be sorted out hopefully sooner rather than later.”
As and when that happens, McIlroy admitted there will be a huge sense of relief. “Yes, for sure,” he said. “I have obviously got people to handle that sort of stuff for me and I only see a fraction of it, the stuff that I really want to see.
“So I have got people dealing with that. But it’s something, as I said, that shouldn’t be in my mind. It’s something that I don’t really think any athlete or anyone should ever go through.
“I have seen more lawyers offices and more lawyers this year than I care to see in my entire life. It’s not something I ever want to go through again and I’m making sure that I won’t ever go through it again.”
Yeah, that would definitely be a pain in the butt and you can’t expect to play your best when you’re spending your spare time talking with lawyers and going through a legal battle from hell due to the split from his now-former management company Horizon Sports.
McIlroy didn’t blame these distractions for hitting a specific shot at a specific time, but as golfers, you want as clear of a mind as possible instead of being weighed down by unpleasant off-course situations.
“There was no specific time when I hit a bad shot because I was thinking of this,” McIlroy added. “But as a golfer, you want your mind as clear as possible and it’s obviously hard for that to happen when you have other things going on that, firstly, you don’t want to happen and secondly you don’t think should be happening.
“It has been a distraction. But as I said, I have only seen a fraction of it and I haven’t had to deal with it as much as some of the guys around me. It’s something that obviously I have not wanted to have in my life.”
Rory has also sought the advice of world no. 1 and his pal Tiger Woods.
“I think I learned a bit more about time management last year,” said McIlroy. “Last year was the first time where the demands on my time, I guess it actually got to me a little bit. I said that I had to remember what got me here in the first place; dedicating myself to my practice and working on my game.
“It’s something that Tiger actually told me last year. He said you have , to remember what got you here in the first place and I think you guys [in the media] know, with Tiger it is ‘no’ 99% of the time, which is a good thing.
” It’s what he needs to do to be the player that he is and to have the career that he has had. If that works for him then that’s great. I’d say I’m a little more forgiving with my time than that but there still needs to be a point where you say no, and look after yourself.”
Well, hopefully Rory will soon be able to put the aforementioned distractions behind him, but it sounds like the legal battles aren’t going to be settled quickly — though I’m not too clear on the situation, so I can be completely wrong. Here’s hoping 2014 bodes much better for Rory and he’s able to focus on golf and leave the off-course unpleasantries in the past.
(Getty Images/Andrew Redington)