Something isn’t right with Rory McIlroy. He hasn’t won a major in two years, he’s been surrounded by a lot of negative press for his take on the Olympics and his role – or lack thereof – in growing the game of golf, and he shot an underwhelming four-over 74 in the first round of the PGA Championship at Baltusrol on Thursday.
What is going on with the former No. 1 player in the world?
“This is just my perception, but I think he’s burned out,” Golf Channel host Ryan Burr said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I don’t think he loves the game of golf. I don’t think he wants to be here right now. I think he’s got zillions of dollars and he’s been practicing seen hours a day seven days a week since he was 6, and I think right now he is not having a whole lot of fun and wouldn’t mind being somewhere else right now. I could see how easy it would be to happen. Golf is such a singular game. So much of that practice time, you are by yourself, in the heat, and it is six, seven hours every single day, year-round, year after year after year.”
Not that McIlroy would be alone in that sentiment, if that is indeed the case.
“People have told me stories,” Burr sad. “College golfers that had really good junior careers and they got a college scholarship, they once told me that the sight of their golf clubs would make them throw up. It just becomes a job. It becomes something that you just can’t get away from. Rory’s entire identity is golf. I’m 100 percent with you. He’s been a little contentious with the media, which was never Rory. He’s always smiling, happy-go-lucky – he’s one of my favorite guys. I think right now he’s a little burned out and might need the reset button in the offseason.”
Jordan Spieth, meanwhile, appears to have rebounded from his Masters collapse in April.
“I was listening to his father this week, and (Jordan) seems to be back in a pretty good spot,” Burr said. “He was really fighting negativity this year. I think that was impossible, at 22 years of age, to get over. But I actually think Jordan Spieth will be around (Sunday). I think Spieth is a factor this weekend at Baltusrol. What a story it would be. He is so freaking strong mentally. He hasn’t had his good stuff, but he’s still been able to have top-10s and even win without his good stuff. If he has found something with that swing and he’s not thinking so much, I think Jordan’s got a chance to be around this weekend. Jason Day is still my favorite to win consecutive PGA Championships, but I think Jordan could be around.”
Dustin Johnson, on there hand, won’t be – not after shooting an opening-round 77.
“Guys like Dustin Johnson continue to struggle,” Burr said. “Dustin Johnson was only beating five club pros this week and losing to the other 13. It is remarkable what the odds-on-Vegas-favorite is doing this week.”