Rory McIlroy given a slice of perspective by fiancée Caroline Wozniacki
Rory McIlroy has talked about Tiger Woods, the spate of recent golf injuries and “the fine line” which he believes exists within the sport’s ever-growing gym culture.
The Ulsterman has also revealed that his fiancée, Caroline Wozniacki, has urged him to retain perspective with his own exercise routines.
Woods is missing from this week’s Masters after a back operation last week and while McIlroy was not suggesting that the world No 1’s famously strenuous exercise regime is in any way to blame for his absence, his words will have resonance to many.
“I set a personal best at a squat a couple of weeks ago and was so happy with myself,” Mcilroy said. “Does that really make me a better golfer?
“Maybe not. It is just something that people get into and have as a hobby.
“Tiger has obviously taken that to a new level in golf where he didn’t just want to be the best golfer in the world, he wanted to be an incredible athlete.
“He wanted to train with Navy Seals, he took it to a whole new level because that is his personality, that’s the way he is.
"But there is a fine line... if you don’t have that then you don’t have the ability to go out and win tournaments, which at the end of the day is your ultimate goal.
"It is not about being able to squat 450 times; it is about getting the ball in the hole.”
McIlroy admits that it has taken Wozniacki, the former world No1 tennis player, to remind him what he does for a living.
“There definitely has to be a balance,” he said. “It is easy to get into this thought process that you want to be an athlete and you want to train like an athlete, you want to push your body to limits. But you’re a golfer.
“I came across CrossFit on YouTube and the guy who wins is Rich Froning. He’s an absolute animal, a beast and has been hailed as the fittest man on earth for the past three years.
"I was chatting with Caroline saying. I would love to get into that in the off-season for all the endurance and strength and everything. She just said, ‘You’re a golfer’. And I was like ’Oh yeah...’ It sort of hit me. I am a golfer first and foremost.”
As well as Woods, Phil Mickelson has suffered from back trouble this season and more recently pains in his side, while Justin Rose was sidelined for the early part of the season with a shoulder injury.
Back complaints have also forced Hunter Mahan and Louis Oosthuizen to withdraw from tournaments this season. Inevitably, part of the focus has fallen on the amount of time the modern professional spends in the gym.
But Jason Stodelle, an on-site physiotherapist with the PGA Tour, believes there are no dangers with “the right kind of exercise”.
“We like to think that the stronger they get, the less likely they are to injure themselves but it comes down to what they are doing in the gym,” he said.
“Some guys are into heavy lifting, Navy Seal type stuff. There’s a risk-reward with a lot of what the guys do and if there’s too high a risk, it’s not worth it.”
McIlroy has obviously come around to this way of thinking. He revealed last month that he suffered from lower back pain “from 18 to 21” when he had “never really done much strengthening exercises or anything”.
That is when he linked up with Steve McGregor, the fitness consultant who works with Manchester City and the New York Knicks. Since then, McIlroy claims to have been pain free.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong with golfers training like athletes, trying to be athletes, trying to become more whatever,” McIlroy said.
“But at the end of the day there is only so much you need to do to improve your golf and the rest is more personal; if you want to get stronger, look bigger or whatever.”