Jun 26, 2023, 06:28AM

You’ve Had Droughts, Too

No one is writing about Adam Scott’s poor performance. Why pick on Rory McIlroy?

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It’s been awhile since I’ve operated at peak efficiency. I’m not as young, I’ve retired from my long career in IT, and added a titanium hip and  mostly plastic knee to the physical retinue. That doesn’t mean I’m not busy, nor should it be said I’m in a drought.

I’ve followed professional golf for several years, and recently brought my wife along for the ride; she’s joined a pool among family and friends wherein players choose three golfers to compete in each of golf’s four Majors—the Masters, the PGA Championship, the U. S. Open, and the British Open. The Brits refer to their championship as THE Open, which will be played next month at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake. The last time the Open was played at Royal Liverpool, the tournament was won by Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy has won over $71 million in “official” tournaments, more than $125 million in golf awards, and countless more millions in endorsements. He’s currently listed as third in the Official World Golf rankings. Recently, he finished one stroke behind this year’s U.S. Open champion, Wyndham Clark.

PGA chairman Jay Monahan is avoiding the press when the Tour plays The Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut. He’ll instead send out two underlings to face the most recent inquiries about the PGA’s clandestine deal to merge with the European Tour and Saudi-backed LIV golf. Monahan made the rumored $3 billion deal without his player’s knowledge or agreement. Little’s known about the particulars of the union, outside of the statement that all pending litigation between the parties will be dropped. McIlroy is the Player Director of the Tour Policy Board. He became aware of the LIV deal just a few hours before its public announcement. At the Canadian Open, the tournament that followed the merger announcement, McIlroy said, “It’s hard for me to not sit up here and feel somewhat like a sacrificial lamb.”

McIlroy says he was never offered money to join the LIV Tour, which is surprising, given his stature, and position as an international player. LIV offered millions to get Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Bryson DeChambeau, but didn’t get nearly as much name recognition from players outside the United States. It happens that most of the big names are here, even if major fields include players from all over the world.

Aside from journalistic and public scrutiny, the United States Justice Department, populated with many golf experts, has also opened an investigation into the big golf deal. The DOJ’s concern is that the merger may violate federal antitrust law. The Department has significant experience in this regard, even in the world of sports, going back to a Supreme Court decision that, at the time, determined that baseball was not interstate commerce. We don’t know if the current investigation will get to any Federal court, let alone be heard by the High Nine.

The LIV discussion has offered McIlroy some respite from a difficult discussion. Jack Nicklaus has won the most Majors, at 18. Tiger Woods has won 15. Rory McIlroy has won the PGA Championship twice, the British Open once, and the U.S. Open once, in 2011.  He returns to Augusta, Georgia each April to contest the only Major he hasn’t won, the Masters. His most recent major victory was in 2014, and therein lies “the problem.” It has been nine years, or 35 major tournaments, since his last victory. In just a month, he’ll play THE Open on what could be considered a friendly layout—again, Royal Liverpool, where Rory has won the claret jug.

On last Sunday’s U.S. Open telecast, announcers mentioned Rory’s drought at least four times. Associated Press writer Doug Ferguson wrote a lengthy article under the headline, “Majors drought lingers for McIlroy.”

Adam Scott won the Masters in 2013. Justin Rose won the U.S. Open that same year. Jason Day, 2015 PGA Champion. Sergio Garcia, 2017 Masters winner. None of them have a major win since. Woods broke an 11-year major winning-free streak when he took the 2019 Masters. Yet the man under the brightest spotlight is McIlroy. It’s tacitly suggested that McIlroy continues to “fail,” simply because he hasn’t won a major in nine years, and that he specifically is lacking the crown jewel, the Masters, to complete his career Grand Slam, the collection of at least one win in each major.

No one is writing about Adam Scott’s poor performance. Nowhere is there word of Sergio Garcia’s “drought,” even though he finished 11 strokes behind Clark, the U.S. Open winner. It’s McIlroy alone who faces this constant onslaught. The story’s old, repetitive and pointless.


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