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'Ego can get you in trouble more times than not' - Rory McIlroy on being a golf 'student'

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Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy might be the world's number one golfer but he says he's not intending to stop his relentless drive for improvements anytime soon.

The Holywood star has been out of competitive action, along with the rest of the golfing world, since the Players' Championship was abandoned after the first round seven weeks ago.

A social media video earlier this week showed McIlroy getting back on the range after seven weeks without putting club to ball - an exercise that left him 'pleasantly surprised' with his striking performance.

Putting the clubs in the garage didn't mean, however, that the four-time major champion was hitting pause on his bid for further golfing success.

Instead, he once again turned to a book by stoic author Ryan Holiday, as a reminder never to lose sight of improvement.

"We've been outside quite a lot recently in the garden and I listened back to "Ego is the Enemy" on audiobook," McIlroy told Sky Sports.

"It's about always being a student, always trying to educate yourself and learn more and tell yourself that you don't know everything.

"Just because I'm good at golf, it doesn't mean I'm the best at every aspect of the game. I'm always trying to learn from different people. You're never above the game, you're never above anyone else, so just always try and be a student and always look for places to learn.

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"I think it's a big sign of strength when you can do that. Ego can get you in trouble more times than not. I'm not saying you shouldn't be confident in your abilities, of course you should be, but there's a fine line between confidence and over-confidence or arrogance.

"Once you get into that realm then it can obviously be counter-productive."

The star golfer first mentioned Holiday during an introspective press conference at last year's Masters tournament and sparked media fascination as a sportsman making himself vulnerable through honesty.

"I feel like it's therapeutic," McIlroy said of his relationship with the press.

"I need to tell it to somebody and they (the media) are the usually the first ones I get to tell it to. That's just my personality. I get it from my father and he is very much that way.

"If someone has taken the time to come up with a thoughtful question, then I want to at least give them the respect of coming up with a thoughtful answer. I feel like I've always had a great relationship with the media.

"There have been times when something I say will get criticised or misconstrued in some way and it will make me think about 'do I need to be that open', but at the same time I want to let you guys in, I want to be interesting and I want to let you know my thoughts.

"It's my nature, it's the way I've always been and hopefully the way I've always will be."

McIlroy has been working on his physical condition, too, during lockdown, lifting 'decently heavy loads' but concentrating more on 'speed work'.

"I used to feel like I rotated so much hitting golf balls that when I was in the gym I never wanted to train with rotation because I was worried about injuring myself," he explained. "I've been starting to train a bit more with rotation again and training speed that is transferable to what I actually do when I swing a club.

"I'm very lucky to have a gym at home and I've been in there every day. When I haven't been hitting balls and go in there at least I'm doing something that might help with my golf, so I feel like I'm not sitting at home not getting any better. I'm still trying to improve and work on things."

The PGA Tour is currently slated to return with the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 11.

Belfast Telegraph