Former European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley believes the weight of expectation surrounding Rory McIlroy weighs heavily on his shoulders every time he attempts to complete a career Grand Slam of major titles by winning The Masters.
McIlroy will return to Augusta this week looking to end a seven-year wait for a fifth career Major and to add the one tournament to his collection that has been missing.
McGinley believes the hype around his push to join an elite list of just five players who had won the Grand Slam of Major titles in the modern era of the game is a factor when he tees it up at Augusta.
"He would be joining incredibly elite company if he wins The Masters and completes the Grand Slam," McGinley told us at a Sky Sports event, as he reflected on McIlroy's attempt to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods on that list of golfing greats.
"With that in mind, winning the Masters title would take a huge, monumental effort mentally and I don't know if he is getting any help dealing with that to get over the line.
"The other guys that won the Grand Slam did it quite quickly, but this is the seventh time he's tried to complete it at The Masters.
"Look at Lee Westwood trying to win his first Major. It gets tougher every year and those are the hurdles Rory is facing here. The expectation is on his shoulder in every major he takes part in.
"I wouldn't say he is running out of time to get this Grand Slam and for me, one of the biggest challenges for Rory is life can change as you get older.
"You become married, you become a father, you have business meetings more regularly as you become a bigger star and you don't have that pure, driven ambition that was there when you started out in the game in your 20s.
"As you move into your 30s, life can get in the way. This is just the evolution of a golf career and Rory is there now. You have to deal with that and it is not easy at times.
"Rory has a huge business. He has a lot of investments and it can take some of your focus away from golf. It's about compartmentalising your life and that is part of the challenge for Rory."
McIlroy recently hired respected golf coach Pete Cowen in an attempt to add something new to his swing, with his fellow Irishman McGinley suggesting the challenge for the former world No.1 is not to take on too many fresh ideas.
"Rory thinks changing technique or a coach is the way forward, but winning the Grand Slam is always going to be a factor for him going into Augusta," added McGinley.
"I'm a great believer in simplicity and clarity. You have technical players like Justin Rose and Bryson DeChambeau and then you have the creative artists like Freddie Couples, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garica and the work of a coach is to get the best out of the player they are working with.
"Rory is incredibly gifted, he has an incredible sensitivity in swinging a golf club, but we all play better when we have very little going on in our head. That's what Rory needs to do now. Clear his head and get a path that's based on inspiration more than any technicalities.
"The key for Pete Cowen is making one or two tweaks that will give him that sense of getting the clubhead back under control again.
"From there, it's just confidence and he can get that very quickly. From there, it's about igniting.
"All I would say is looking at the way Jordan Spieth has come back to form, we had all the same narrative about changing his game and his coach not so long ago, but he stuck with all the same team and is now one of the favourites going into The Masters."
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