Tony spoke to former Reuters golf correspondent Tony Jimenez to review Rory McIlroy’s disappointing performance at The Open:
“That was a bit of a fiasco from Rory early on at Royal Portrush. He went in there tender-minded but he should have known better.
“He should have been mentally prepared for that first tee shot. To hit it out of bounds and make a quadruple-bogey eight, it was pretty much all over for him before it even started. It was like a knockout punch in the first 20 seconds of a fight. A nightmare.
“I think it was a lack of preparation. You’re not giving it your full attention, you’re not fully in control of your talent. It’s frustrating. Rory doesn’t always get to the first tee in that positive mindset which gives him the chance to get his ability out. He has to get that mindset right.
“Once you get tentative, you’re never going to play to your full potential. There’s no doubt he’s got greatness in there. He threw caution to the wind on the second day and shot a 65, played like he can.
“I thought it exemplified the mental side of his game when you compare the two rounds. I think that moving forward into the next decade, he needs to get himself prepped up to the level he was for the second day at Portrush. It was like the pressure was off all of a sudden.
“That is something champions have to figure out. If you’re not truly in the moment you’re in the land of the ‘what-ifs’, the ‘maybes’, the ‘would-haves, could-haves and should-haves’. It’s like a superficial mentality. The winner, Shane Lowry, said it was like an out-of-body experience for him.
“He played one shot at a time, kept his head together and didn’t feel nerves. That’s what a champion does. That’s where Rory needs to be.
“I think there’s an element of self doubt in there too for Rory. He knows very well what he’s capable of but he should also always know what can and might happen.
“Nick Faldo always referred to it as a cocoon of concentration. You put yourself in a place where nothing can disturb your focus. Tiger Woods always did that, Jack Nicklaus too. The great players manage to do that and it’s something Rory hasn’t found the knack of doing yet.
“There was no time Rory wanted to deliver more than in that first round. I’m sure he felt like he let himself down. Part of you feels disgusted he did it. As an ally, a friend, someone who’s on his side, I feel that he’s obviously not doing it on purpose but he needs to figure it out.
“Look at Jordan Spieth. He was all over the damn place last week but he saved himself with his putting and his short game. If anyone else had played the way he did in the early rounds they wouldn’t have made the cut.
“It was a desperation thing for him because he didn’t know where his next tee shot was going. It was a constant struggle for Jordan but he holed putt after putt to hang on in there.”