In golf, sometimes the hardest thing isn’t scoring a string of wins, a season full of highs -- but rather sustaining that wave of success.
As Rory McIlroy pointed out in a recent interview with the Telegraph, golfers who knock it out of the park one year often stumble immediately afterward. Speaking from personal experience, McIlroy sounds sure that golf’s reigning champion, Jordan Spieth, is in for a rough ride in 2016. "Jordan Spieth will find it tough this year," he said. "Trust me."
Though he posted dominant seasons in 2012 and 2014, McIlroy struggled to maintain that momentum in both 2013 and 2015. Rare is the golfer who comes off a months-long streak of wins and continues to sail along at the top after taking a break. According to McIlroy, it’s mostly down to "self-inflicted pressure." All those expectations have a way of derailing even the most focused athlete. "If you look at the stats at how those who have had a double-major season have performed the next year… well, it’s hard to back up. It just is," he said.
Though 2015 didn’t work out exactly as he’d planned (an ankle injury left him sidelined for part of the season), McIlroy is looking forward to 2016, planning to take advantage of his newly corrected vision after undergoing Laser surgery in December. If his history is any indication, this could be his year. And McIlroy is planning to play more often early in the year to make sure he's ready to the prime of the season.
"I want to get in a rhythm where it doesn't feel like the start of the season, but feel like I'm 'played in,'" he said. "I'm not saying I was undercooked this year, but I definitely won't be next year. I'm playing [the Northern Trust Open at] Riviera for the first time and with the WGC Match Play moving dates, Augusta will be my eighth event."
In 2015 McIlroy played three PGA Tour events before the Masters and two events on the European Tour, winning the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February.