Faldo Voices His Opinion on McIlroy’s Slump
We all know the famous phrases – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – “Dance with the girl who brung ya” – and as my grandfather said – “Hey! Don’t monkey with that.” Nick Faldo thinks that Rory McIlroy might have violated all three of these time-held clichés.
It gets tricky, inserting one’s self between two points of view expressed by great players. Which one should we believe, or should we believe either one?
Intense competitors throughout history have made on-the-sleeve pronouncements on the merits and foibles of other players, and in the case of Nick Faldo, it’s almost his professional right as an on-air broadcaster. To disqualify him on the basis of golf would be foolhardy. The Englishman, who won three Opens and three Masters, and who ran for 98 weeks as the premier player in the world, stands on firm ground. However, getting into another’s mind and claiming to know it is an iffy venture, no matter how good you are.
Rory McIlroy might agree. The young Irish star, whose talent is flatly undeniable, has had a rough year after a stint of his own as number one, and the perfect foil for an ongoing rivalry with Tiger Woods. After a 2012 season that saw him win four tournaments and a second major, not much has gone Rory’s way. He hasn’t contended in much of anything for a while, and an eighth place finish is the best result this year.
Faldo’s belief that McIlroy messed with his own magic formula for success is directly aimed at the Irishman’s transfer from the care of Acushnet (Titleist) to a sponsorship with Nike. In fact, Faldo described it as “dangerous,” and blatantly suggested that it was entirely money-driven, as if there is something in major sports that is not.
To his credit, McIlroy responded with both firmness and civility, reminding us (and Faldo) that he “…doesn’t know how I feel over the golf shot,” and that the former star “is a little more analytically minded than I am.”
Faldo was undeterred, as the Dean of Johnny Miller’s School of Straight Talk, rejecting claims of fans who assume that McIlroy can adapt to the new equipment and professional handling, claiming that he “shouldn’t have to adapt to something new,” and that the whole thing has resulted in a serious loss of confidence on the younger player’s part.
Faldo’s statement that “we get a millisecond of feel at impact” was a reminder to me that professionals feel that millisecond in a way that we do not, the same way Heifetz feels a Strad in a way that we do not. Nick might have an excellent point there. If Nike’s equipment doesn’t offer McIlroy what he’s looking for in the most important moment of the golf swing, the personality just isn’t going to like it – although I still believe that McIlroy’s recent troubles have nothing to do with any of this.
Scanning back on all the golf I’ve seen, and all the drama of surges and slumps that every great player has experienced, to a greater or lesser degree, I seem to remember nothing but change, on every tour.
Arnold Palmer’s house has more golf clubs in it than any pro shop in the country, and I believe he’s tinkered with every one of them. He changed putters the way Casanova changed girlfriends. Pros have changed clubs, swing coaches, caddies, favorite colors and tournament schedules before the modern age even began. Winners have suddenly returned to their beloved teen-age wedge, with sudden and miraculous results.
I don’t know – when Faldo speaks, I listen…and when McIlroy speaks, I listen. Rory’s slump may remain a mystery for a little while longer.