This morning my alarm went off at 6am as I had a personal training session at 6:30. Less than six hours earlier I was sat on the sofa watching Rory McIlroy complete his opening round of the 2016 Masters. Not the ideal preparation for an early morning PT session but Rory is more than just a golfer I admire, he is someone who truly inspires me.
The number of titles and awards he has won is impressive but it is not what he has achieved that inspires me but rather the way he has done it. I have picked three attributes that Rory has that make him more than an incredible golfer, they make him an inspirational individual.
Don’t rely on your talent alone
When he is playing at his best there are maybe one or two golfers in the professional ranks that can compete with the man from Northern Ireland. However despite having a huge amount of natural talent Rory has not relied upon this alone. A lot has been made of the time he spends in the gym but he has been very honest about why he trains like an athlete – he wants to make the most of his talent. The goal of his training is not to look amazing but to have a body that stays injury free.
Is it not just in the gym where he puts in the work, he is also always looking to improve his golf game. His recent switch of putting grips highlights his determination to be the best possible version of himself. This quote from an interview in Golf Monthly last year sums up his attitude perfectly.
“I feel like my talent got 50% of the way there, but after that, it’s the volume of work I’ve done for 15 years, once I’d realised I wanted to play golf for a living.”
Be honest with yourself and learn from your mistakes
In 2011 Rory threw away a golden chance to win his first major. His final day meltdown at the Masters was horrible to witness but it played an important part in making him the four time major winner he is now. The key to his success at the very next major (he won the US Open just 70 days later) was that he looked at what went wrong at the Masters and figured out how he would put it right. There were no excuses or hiding away from what happened, he learnt his lesson and came back an even better player. It was the same when the switch to Nike didn’t go well for the first 12 months. He knew it wasn’t the clubs but rather his swing and he kept working on that until it came good. At no point did he blame the equipment change, he was honest with himself and the media.
Play with a smile on your face
Apart from maybe Joe Root, the England Cricketer, I don’t think there is another sportsman who plays his sport with such childlike joy as Rory. When his game is at its best he bounds down the fairway like a kid heading to the toyshop to buy a new toy. I find Rory’s enthusiasm and passion for golf hugely inspiring. It is like he’s been granted his one wish and is determined to make the most of every second he has as a professional golfer.
His passion is evident not just when playing for himself but also when part of a team. Anyone who’s watched Rory play in the Ryder Cup will tell you that he is passionate about the competition and helping Europe beat the USA. His demolition of Rickie Fowler in 2014 was a master-class in match play and he did it with a smile on his face.
So there are three attributes that Rory McIlroy has that make him an inspirational individual. He certainly inspires me to be a better golfer and person. I don’t know if he will win the Masters this year but I do know that he is someone everyone should look up to.
Main image – @EuropeanTour, Training image – Nike.com and Open Championship image – Europeantour.com