Golf Betting: Rory's swing all wrong?
There's no smoke without fire, of course. And there's no golfer without frailties, such are the vagaries of the swing.
Romilly Evans wonders whether critics of Rory McIlroy are justified in their recent commentary...
It's easy to criticise. Often enjoyable too. But that's not to say that the lot of a critic, be they journalist or on-air analyst, isn't without its pitfalls. Should the commentator cast their judgmental eye over actors, politicians or sportsmen, they always risk coming across as an armchair-bound clever dick who is too lazy or inept to do any better themselves. Lazy and inept? It's a fair cop. Personally, though, I draw the line at armchairs, preferring the orthopaedic office stool instead - bad back, you know.
Speaking of poor posteriors, few suffer this condition more acutely than professional golfers. Especially if they've just had their game deconstructed by resident Golf Channel analyst, Brandel Chamblee, a man who takes back-stabbing to the level of a martial art. First he told Tiger Woods to sack swing guru of the moment, Sean Foley. Then he trained his sights on Rory McIlroy, suggesting after the first round of last week's PGA that "nobody on tour misses it left more often than Rory."
Both Woods and McIlroy were disappointed to have been critiqued by Chamblee, expecting unwavering understanding from the former tour pro. However, Chamblee was just doing his job. And it's not as if he wasn't prepared to expand on McIlroy's misfiring mechanics. "When he's off, he shifts his weight too much, hanging on his back foot for too long," continued Chamblee. "Watch the inside part of his right foot - the shoe comes off the ground, buckling on the outside. If the back foot isn't settled, a hook left is the result."
While this analysis was delivered after McIlroy had carded a two-over-par round of 74, it would be harsh to say it was a work of hindsight. Particularly considering what Rors did next. He went out and leant left more times than a man with one right leg, exhibiting all the swing-flaws against which Chamblee had cautioned. He shot a savage 79, lost his number-one ranking and was home for the weekend.
McIlroy has now registered back-to-back missed cuts at the self-appointed "fifth majors" of the US and European Tours. That's a worrying sign for his supporters, especially with the US Open only a fortnight away (currently trading at (13.5) to back for Medinah). The 23-year-old has tried to play down the concerns, hinting that he may have become a tad complacent - "I just haven't practiced enough," was his terse self-assessment.
Many will hark back to the 2011 Masters, where the Northern Irishman exhibited a similar susceptibility to err left in his spectacular final-round collapse. It even led Lee Westwood to impishly imply that everyone knew McIlroy's Achilles heel.
"Playing with Rory, you see he snap-hooks under pressure."
There's no smoke without fire, of course. And there's no golfer without frailties, such are the vagaries of the swing. That said, it is well to remember that McIlroy swiftly put Westwood in his place by annihilating the field by eight shots at the following major.
This year's US Open again provides "Wee-Mac" with the platform to silence his detractors with a robust rebuttal. But even if he does, Chamblee should stand firm. Those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones lest one is returned with interest. Still, not all hypocrites live in glass houses. And in any case, just because you haven't experienced something or performed at a certain level, doesn't mean you can't make a salient point or reveal an unforeseen flaw.
In short, McIlroy should heed that Benjamin Franklin adage: "Our critics are our friends, they show us our faults."
Iron out this minor fault-line and Rors could prove golf's rock of ages.