Rory McIlroy watched his ball escape Friday morning with horror. "That's so bad," he said. "Oh my God."
On the 16th hole of his 12th Masters, McIlroy sent an errant tee-shot on the short par-3 that plunged into the water. At the time, he looked more like someone with a double-digit handicap than the player who was the number 1 player in the world when the coronavirus pandemic ended the PGA Tour in March.
He was the first to end his delayed rain. round third over par. But McIlroy, one of the pre-tournament favorites, shouldn't count towards the only major championship he has yet to win.
He recovered in the second round with a six-under-par 66 for a 36 hole. a total of three below which put him well below the projected intersection of even par.
The good news is that McIlroy still has 36 holes to catch the leaders. The bad news is he will have at least six strokes to make amends.
"I honestly played so well coming in here, and then I go into the first round and shoot 75, and I'm like," Where did that come from? ? & # 39; ”said McIlroy.
As he walked from the scoring house to the practice range to hit six shots during his half-hour break between rounds, McIlroy received a blunt pep talk from Jimmy Dunne, a friend who is an Augusta National member.
Dunne has been something of a life caddy for McIlroy, introducing him to books such as Greg McKeown's "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less" and challenging him to think outside the golf bubble.
Long seen as Tiger Woods' heir apparent, McIlroy, 31, amassed four major titles for his 26th birthday. A win at the Masters would give him a Grand Slam career. Anything less would extend his winless streak in the majors to six years.
McIlroy is deeply curious, a seeker who believes that happiness in his personal life will lead to success on the golf course, not the other way around. In an interview with Golf Digest earlier this year, McIlroy said he had worked hard over the past year to improve his relationship with his parents; his wife, Erica Stoll; and others in his inner circle.
"Maybe I felt like everything revolved around me and that everyone should know what I need," said McIlroy.
He returned to the theme in his pre-Masters press conference this week when asked how the August 31st birth of his first child – a daughter, Poppy Kennedy – had changed his perspective.
"I grew up an only child and an only child playing golf," said McIlroy, "so I feel like the whole world has been revolving around me for a long time. And not anymore. It's about this little person. ”
McIlroy & # 39; s quest not to be the center of his world comes across almost revolutionary in the world of professional sports. in the championship some have wondered if McIlroy is too well adapted for the good of his game.
"You can certainly be too selfless," said Tim S. Grover, author of "Relentless," a book about the mindset of great artists based on his work as a personal trainer with basketball players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.
McIlroy's 2020 has certainly been a two-season tale. 11 worldwide starts before the tour ended, he finished just two k honored outside the top five and achieved two wins. In 12 starts since the competition resumed, he hasn't had a top five.
Grover, the founder of Attack Athletics Inc., is not surprised.
“There is an adjustment period. if you have a newborn in between being all in and trying to figure out how to balance a new person in your life that requires your time and attention, ”Grover said in a phone interview Friday. "So right now I think he's still in that phase."
McIlroy should let those around him take charge of the home, Grover added. He has to trust them when they say they have everything under control, rather than trying to be the best parent and the best player he can be at the same time.
Trying to improve all interpersonal relationships at the same time can be the same as trying to improve every aspect of the game – driving, chipping, and putting – all at once.
McIlroy is better off focusing on one relationship at a time, said Grover, adding, "If you try to be everything to everyone, you end up being nothing to yourself and them. You end up being good instead of great. "