Rory McIlroy wants to remind everyone just how hard it is to win tournaments, let alone majors, on the PGA Tour.
In a podcast with No Laying Up, the four-time major winner discussed the pressure of living up to the media hype of what a “successful season” looks like for the top players. McIlroy said what bugs him most is that both fans and media don’t give players enough time to develop and become what they want them to be.
“Since I’ve started to win majors, there’s probably been about 10 different eras in golf,” McIlroy said. “Generations and eras are built up over decades of playing against each other, not over two seasons.”
McIlroy, who referred to Jordan Spieth’s supposed “slump” in 2016 as a key indicator in the culture of sports fans and media, admitted that the talk gets to him, too. Following his 2016 FedEx Cup win, including a $10 million bonus and two trips to the winner’s circle in three weeks, the 27-year-old talked about how bothered he was that everyone’s assumption was that he was “back.”
“Sometimes it’s just hard to put your point across sometimes when you try to elaborate on how difficult it is to win on Tour and how much competition there is out there,” McIlroy said. “I think the one thing for me — and I don’t want to put anyone down — but, for example, I’ve won four majors and there’s guys that have, you know, great players in this generation that have won one, for example, the likes of DJ [Dustin Johnson] and Jason Day. And they are possibly and probably going to win more, but the one thing that I like to say is, ‘If they win three more majors, they get to me. If I win three more majors, I get to Arnold Palmer.'”
That said, McIlroy is quick to assume some of the blame for the way fans and media react to the players’ ebbs and flows. The way today’s players glorify the majors and consider them the benchmark of success is part and parcel of the media reaction to players’ success (or lack thereof).
“I’ve sat in press conferences before saying, ‘It’s going to be a great year if I win a major.’ And if I haven’t won one, the media have every right to say, ‘Well, it hasn’t been a great year,'” McIlroy said. “I feel partly to blame for that because of how much importance I put on majors, but people have to realize there are still some great golf tournaments out there and they’re very hard to win.”
You can listen to the full podcast here.