For years, Rory McIlroy hasn’t found the fun in playing a casual round of golf. Every round he played, whether it be a practice round, a round with his buddies, and even a round with his dad, it wasn’t a “fun” round. Don’t get him wrong, he enjoyed it, but having a round of golf just for fun was lost a long time ago. Be it money, be it fame, be it the pressure of being one of the best in the world, whatever the reason, the “fun” was gone.
This week marks the 118th U.S. Open golf championship. As usual, all of the big names are there. There are countless storylines abound. Will Tiger get his first major win in a decade to the week? Will Phil complete the career grand slam to cement his place amongst the greats of all time? Will one of the ‘young guns’ continue to show their dominance of the recent major championships? Will Rory find that spark that he needs to get another U.S. Open? Listening to him during his press conference yesterday, he may just have.
When the game became to serious for Rory, the fun went out of the game. It was work. It was appearances. It was living up to a standard the world, and to an extent, himself, that was set for him. As any of the greats in an sport will tell you, it’s easier getting to the top than staying there. For Rory, staying there drained all of the fun out of the game.
Rory has found the fun again in the game of golf. A lot of the credit can be attributed to his dad, Gerry, getting a membership at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida. Rory had lost the love of playing any course he wanted at any time. His dad changed that and also his outlook on golf. “It’s a real treat to be able to show up at any golf course in the country or the world, and get out and play it and have a bit of fun,” McIlroy said.
Embed from Getty Images
When playing golf for pure fun, your stress level is even. Translating that to a torunament round is tough, but Rory seems to have found the way for himself, “I think it does put you in a different frame of mind,” McIlroy said. “You’re relaxed out there, and maybe that sort of bleeds into your mindset whenever you’re here in a big championship. It’s no different. I think that’s the thing. If I’ve got a shot that I need to execute under pressure here this week, it’s no different than playing that shot when I’m out there playing with my dad or my buddies or whatever it is. So obviously, there is a separation of the two, but the more you can get into that mindset of being relaxed and enjoying it, the better you’re going to play.”
A relaxed Rory is a dangerous Rory. Look at how he decimated the field at Congressional 2011. He was relaxed. He was on fire. The field paid the price. That’s around the last time casual rounds for Rory was fun. With the “fun” back in Rory’s game, a player of his caliber can make a mockery of the field this week at “Shinny.” I wish sports gambling was legal here in New York so I could put some coin down on Rory. I already used him for my fantasy pick earlier in the year, at Bay Hill, and he won. I have a feeling he may just win again!