McGinley: 'McIlroy no longer has edge on his rivals'
Tour veteran Paul McGinley believes that the next few months will be pivotal to setting the parameters for the next five years of Rory McIlroy's career.
The 2014 Ryder Cup captain, speaking at the launch of the new Paul McGinley Golf Academy at Mount Juliet Estate yesterday, highlighted the key issues for McIlroy who has endured an injury-disrupted and winless season to date.
The four-time Major champion has dropped to sixth in the world rankings and needs a special performance at next week's BMW Championship if he is to stay in the race to retain his FedEx Cup title.
McIlroy will be 30 next year, and in McGinley's view, the Northern Irishman is in a transition period.
"This is a very important stage of Rory's career.
"He's in a new period in his life. He's almost 30 years of age. He's just got married, he's got responsibilities.
"And the other thing that's very important in terms of Rory is that the landscape at the top end of professional golf has changed.
"When he was the new kid on the block, he had a big advantage over everybody else because nobody could drive it anywhere near as far as he did, or as straight as he did.
"There's five or six guys - I'm not going to include Jordan Spieth in this, although he's a great competitor - but Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm, can all drive it as straight and as long as Rory.
"He doesn't have the advantage he had before," said McGinley.
McIlroy needs to find a new long-term caddie and, as the stats prove, his wedge and short iron play has let him down at crucial periods.
He also has to clear up the lingering effects of that rib injury which has restricted his practice regime, hence McIlroy's decision to play only one more event after the FedEx Cup - the Dunhill Links next month.
McGinley hopes that the Ryder Cup star can find the right answers and that he adds to his tally of four Majors. If and when he wins a fifth is open to conjecture.
"We all know he's incredibly talented. The only guy who can answer that is Rory. All I know is he's in the middle of a transition," said McGinley.