Friday 23 August 2019

John Masterson: Rory McIlroy being a good guy spells bad news

Rory McIlroy ends the season on a high in Dubai
Rory McIlroy ends the season on a high in Dubai

John Masterson

I am a little bit worried about Rory McIlroy. He is far too nice a guy for his own good. Any golfer will tell you that the worst thing that happened to Tiger Woods was developing a more rounded personality, growing up a little, becoming a bit more mature. He is probably a much better person these days. But he has been absent from the winners enclosure for a while now and the thoughts of him ever matching Jack Nicklaus's record of winning 18 Majors have totally receded. He was much better at the golf when he was a pr**k.

Rory, to his credit, has never had Tiger's womanising character flaws. He has always seemed well-grounded and his awesome talent has seen him pick up the titles without losing his likeable personality. Sure, he was single-minded. It takes determination at his age to take on his management company and break up an engagement and keep his mind on the day job. That he is now in a happy place was evident in Dubai last Sunday morning.

Rory was holding a two-shot lead standing on the 17th tee and it is only a formality that he will be both European golfer of the year and win the tournament. There is €3million on its way but he probably doesn't even think of small change like that. There is more chance of the Troika being back in Ireland than there is of Rory going broke. He is chatting affably with Andy Sullivan over whom he holds a two-stroke lead. It did cross my mind that this is all a little friendly. This is not a Sunday four ball. And after a short wait Rory tees up and hits his ball into a lake, probably as bad a shot as anyone managed to hit in the entire tournament. And then instead of unleashing a string of obscenities, or hurling the club into the very same lake, Rory just quietly says "oh my goodness". I wondered is this immaculate self-control or the absence of passion.

I love my MacBook Pro and the only reason it is there for me is probably that Steve Jobs was a seriously unpleasant bully. An absolute pr**k. If Steve has told employees that they 'must try harder', I would be using a different phone and it might still have buttons.

Passion seems to be a necessary ingredient for success, but being passionate is not always a very desirable human trait. While it may be romantic to be on the receiving end of it for a while, enjoying it, knowing it will not last, one always feels it is only a heartbeat away from obsession. Passion usually means that the personality has gone a bit out of balance. Having your every thought focused on a desirable person is not good for mental health. But to be a top-class athlete, that passion is essential.

I hope Rory hasn't become too nice a guy as he prepares for 2016 with four Majors out there waiting to be won. It would be far too high a price to pay. Plus he looks happy in the love department as well. Things couldn't be worse.

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