Paul McGinley has defended his criticism of Rory McIlroy, maintaining that he merely comments on what he sees.
Almost one year ago, McIlory won the WGC-HSBC Champions, defeating reigning champion Xander Schauffele in the playoff. He then carried that promising form into early 2020. However, since the COVID-19 lockdown was lifted, the 31-year-old has suffered a major dip.
McIlroy finished tied for eighth on +5 at the US Open in New York last week, despite a decent start on day one.
Having finished 2019 as the second-best golfer in the world, the Northern Irish man has slipped to fourth in the rankings.
Paul McGinley was on co-commentary duty on Sky Sports for the US Open. However, many Irish golfing fans felt that the former Ryder Cup captain was overly-critical on McIlroy considering how tough every golfer found the course.
“Listen, my job at Sky is not to be a cheerleader for Rory”, said McGinley, a brand ambassador for Allianz.
“I’ve got to give a balanced view of what I see. That’s my duty as an analyst, and it’s important that I don’t cross that line. And, yeah, I’m hard on him, in some ways, but I’m also very supportive of him too.
“I’m hard on him at the moment because he’s not performing. He’s performed poor post-lockdown, but if you listen to what I had to say six months before lockdown, it was completely different. I was saying this is the best we’ve ever seen Rory, the most consistent he’s ever been and he’s on the threshold of something really big. I was really bigging him up.
“I’ve got to call it the way I see it, but before COVID I really feel that he was in a great position to go on and win the Masters, the way he was trending pre-lockdown. But, since then, he’s been poor and I can’t sugar-coat it in any other way.
“It’s not about being hard. It’s just about calling it the way it is at the moment. Rory would be the first to admit it at the moment.”
“Every single one of his statistics had drifted”
The Dublin native insists that his comments on McIlroy haven’t been personal, merely a reflection of his recent statistics. McGinley believes that McIlroy’s focus has swayed of late.
“This is not just an opinion, it’s backed up by statistics. I don’t go out of the limb with some views that are just my own personal view. I normally do it based on statistics and [talk about] why he’s fallen off.”
“I’ve been saying for quite a while that his focus just wasn’t the same and you could see that as every one of his statistics had drifted, post-lockdown, in those first four or five weeks.
“So it wasn’t just a case of ‘Oh he’s putting badly and that’s why he’s performing badly’. Every single one of his statistics had drifted. That tells you that the concentration levels, and that drive, was not quite the same.
“As it turned out, then, he was saying that it was because his wife was pregnant and that was on his mind. That may be the case but I had to call it as I see it. I like to think that I’m very fair with him and it’s not a case of me being hard on him.”
“I’m a huge fan of Rory’s”
McGinley maintains that he is still a huge fan of the four-time Major winner. However, he explains that until McIlroy’s form improves, he will continue to criticise his performances.
“I have to call it as an analyst. I’ve been firm but fair. Sometimes that can be perceived as negative but sometimes it’s also very positive. I’m a huge fan of Rory’s.
“Nobody would love more than me to see him win the Masters. Nobody would love more than me to see him win in a really difficult environment like the US Open is.
“But the statistics will tell you, Rory has won 28 events worldwide and every one with a score of 12 under par or better. So I have to highlight the fact that when the conditions get really tough, Rory struggles in them. I have to highlight that. I can’t sugarcoat it in any other way. All I can do is just be fair, and honest, based on fact.”
Allianz brand ambassador Paul McGinley was speaking at the launch of Leaders Lounge, a Titan Experience Property proudly supported by Allianz Ireland. A virtual event bringing McGinley, Jim Gavin and Stuart Lancaster together to share their leadership experience, Leaders Lounge takes place November 3rd. Visit titan.leadersloungelive.com for more information.