Dear Rory: Enough already, it’s time to kick your game into high gear

Rory McIlroy ponders a drive during the second round of the Masters.
Robert Beck/SI

Dear Rory,

How are you? How’s Caroline? How are Gerry and Rosie? Did you notice Tiger and Phil have left the stage and parity has settled over the Tour like a plague? I see from your Twitter feed that you were back in Northern Ireland last week, playing Royal County Down. Did you get a game? Did you win? Jeff Knox wants to know. Ha, ha! Just kidding!

Actually, I’m not. It had to have made Jeff’s day when he joined you in the third round of the Masters as a noncompeting marker. Sure, he shot 70, but that he clipped you by one even after a two-shot swing on 18, and he’s only an amateur, for the love of wow, what a memory for Mr. Knox!

Listen, Rors, I know you’ve gone through some upheaval. You moved to Florida. You changed your gear. You commenced an ongoing legal jousting match with your former management company. You got engaged. But come on. Your grace period is up. In all honesty, it was over a while ago. Hey, Rory, care to guess what’s playing on the radio as I write this? It’s called “Say Something” (I’m giving up on you). It’s a sad, sad song—a real weeper. You don’t want to become a sad song, do you, Rory?

I’m concerned, and I’ll tell you why. You handed the Honda to a grateful Russell Henley. You notched backdoor top 10s at the Shell Houston Open (T-7) and the Masters (T-8). You haven’t won on U.S. soil since the BMW Championship on Sept. 9, 2012.

Hey, Rory, know where I was on Masters Sunday? Amen Corner! That was a sweet birdie on 11—very strong. That moved you to three under for your first 11 holes! You’d clawed your way back to even par for the tournament! I couldn’t help but think: What if you threw a little back-nine 30 at the boys and then the wind picked up?

You smote a Bubba-like drive well down the 13th fairway (yes!). You selected a short iron and took eagle-eyed aim (yes!). Then you rinsed your ball in the water short of the pin (nooooo!). Oh, Rory. Rory, Rory, Rory.

Of course you bogeyed that hole. You made a mess of the par-5s all week—you admit that. But five bogeys? Also, by your own admission, Rory, you can’t seem to get through four days at Augusta without one terrible score—a third-round 79 in 2013 and a second-round 77 this year. “I don’t know what it is,” you said. “I seem to throw in a high number every year.” At least your bad round seemed to be getting less terrible, you joked. Gallows humor.

I don’t know what it is, either, Rory, but if humor is your thing, let me refer you to a Bob Newhart sketch in which he plays a therapist. A female patient comes to see him and professes her paralyzing fear of being buried alive in a box. Bob gives a great, big windup, she sits there with pen and paper, and—“Stop it!” he barks. And that’s it. That’s his advice. It’s mine too. Two words. It’s a great bit—check it out on YouTube.

So you’re zoning out? Stop it! Putting poorly? Stop it!

Seriously, you know how to get it done—at 24 you’ve already copped two major titles. You were world No. 1. And you must appreciate the importance of winning, since on social media last week you were lamenting Manchester United’s woeful lack of form. “What’s going on at Goodison Park!?” you tweeted after Man U’s 2–nil loss to Everton on Easter Sunday.

Fair enough. But a better question is: What the heck is going on at Rory McIlroy World Headquarters? “I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks off, and I’m looking forward to getting back to the playing again,” you said at the Masters. “I’ve got two big tournaments coming up, Charlotte and TPC, and I want to do well there and feel like I’ve got it to go and contend.”

Let’s hope so. You once skipped the Players because you said you didn’t like the course, but you finished T-8 there last year. If you can do that, and you can beat the boys at target golf at Kiawah, as you did at the 2012 PGA, then you can tame TPC Sawgrass. Enough talk. Time to get to work.



p.s. You think Caroline could get me tickets to Wimbledon? Only need two, about even with the net—not too high up.