I’m still learning, says McIlroy

Rory McIlroy insists he is not yet the complete golfer and with an eye towards next month’s Masters warned his improved putting stroke may still be vulnerable on lightning greens.

“A firm and fast Augusta, or a typical US Open set-up, is probably the most difficult test for me. It requires so much discipline and precision, and that’s something I’m still learning,” McIlroy told Golf Digest magazine.

He added: “I won a US Open, but it was much wetter than normal, and even Hoylake was soft for a links. So if Augusta is fiery, winning there would get me closer to being a complete player, because I don’t think I’m there yet.”

In a fascinating interview in Manhattan with Jaime Diaz, McIlroy also talked freely about how his break-up with Caroline Wozniacki sparked last year’s renaissance in his game:

“After [the breakup], I thought, What else do I have in my life? I have family and friends, but they’re always going to be there. What else? That’s when I decided, You know what, I’m just going to immerse myself in golf for a while. I spent more time at it, thought about it more, spent more time at the range and at the gym. Because that’s all I had, and that’s all I wanted to do.”

McIlroy acknowledged he may not always have backed his talent with the determination it deserved. “I’ve come across enough successful people now to know that the best in whatever walk of life, they’re the ones who just work the hardest. I realised that if I want to be the best and fulfil my potential, I’m going to have to do the same thing. And for those lucky enough to be born with a gift and then choose to work the hardest—I mean, that’s the combination.”

The four-time Major-winner even suggested he had to first overcome certain reservations about his gifts. “Until just a few years ago, I don’t want to say I felt guilty for being successful because I had this ability given to me, but it was sort of like, ‘Why me?’

“Because I felt like it’s a very selfish thing to be a winner, a very selfish trait. Which is what you sort of need in golf. And I guess it just took me a while to be comfortable with that, just because of the personality I have. I realised if I want to succeed in golf, which I do, I need to have it. What helped was realising how much people like winners, how people gravitate to them. So if other people are happy for me winning, then why can I not be?”

McIlroy insisted he is not a natural competitor. “I’ve no ambition to be the best at anything else. If we’re playing a game of cards, or a game of pool, or whatever it is, I’d happily let someone win just to keep them happy.”

The world’s top-ranked player also spoke about his relationship with Tiger Woods and a side of his rival not often spoken about: “He’s great with me,” McIlroy says. “He’s very... actually, he wants to help. He’s like, ‘I know you’re getting into the same sort of position as me, so anything you need to know, we’ve been through it all.’”


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