Graeme McDowell believes Rory McIlroy’s passionate love affair with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki and his gruelling travel schedule is "wearing him down".
Since he rose to world No 1 in March, McIlroy has been highly erratic and performed poorly in the majors — sandwiching a missed cut in his US Open defence between a share of 40th in the Masters and joint 60th place in last week’s British Open.
McDowell is backing his Ryder Cup partner to bounce back quickly, but he has no doubt that jetting around the world to be with the Danish star has taken its toll on the 23-year old Down man.
"There’s no doubt, all the travelling is wearing him down a little bit and we are seeing a little bit of fatigue," McDowell told the Golf Channel.
"But he’s a fit kid and he’s a young kid and he has all the talent in the world. It is only a matter of time [before he comes back].
"Yes, his performance in the big events this year have not be really up to his standard. But he is going through a little bit of a voyage of discovery, for all the right reasons. He’s very happy with his personal life and Caroline is a great girl. He will be okay."
Asked if he sensed McIlroy was feeling the burden of expectation since becoming world number one earlier this year, McDowell said: "A little bit. It’s probably he’s own expectations more than anything. He’s had a tough 12 months. Let’s be honest, the boy’s in love. He’s crazy about her. It’s not a bad problem to have."
McIlroy and Wozniacki met a little a year ago at a world title boxing match in Germany. But McDowell believes McIlroy’s determination to be at his girlfriend’s side has taken its toll on him physically.
"Caroline’s got a huge job on her own hands with regard to her tennis and it’s hugely intense," McDowell said. "She can’t really travel because of her entourage. It’s not like Rory, who can be anywhere in the world and all he needs is a bag of practice balls and he can practice anywhere."
The celebrity couple — who nicknamed themselves Wozzillroy — were pictured in London yesterday with McIlroy accompanying Wozniacki to the Olympic Village.