Brandel Chamblee says Rory McIlroy is past his physical prime
After yet another good finish in a major championship without a win, golf pundits everywhere are wondering: Will Rory McIlroy ever claim a fifth major championship?
There’s no doubt that McIlroy has the talent and the game to do it — and yet, here we are, nine years and counting since his last major triumph, despite the fact that McIlroy has posted 20 top 10s in the majors since his win at the 2014 PGA Championship.
What to make of McIlroy’s many near-misses was a hot topic on Golf Channel’s “Live From the Open Championship” in the aftermath of Brian Harman’s six-stroke victory and McIlroy’s T6 finish at Royal Liverpool on Sunday evening. Jaime Diaz kicked off the discussion by suggesting that McIlroy’s success early in his career made him a bit nonchalant about improving some areas of his game.
“I’m not saying he coasted,” Diaz said. “I just don’t think he was fully aware that other players were getting better and there were things that he could have improved to improve his scoring besides his tremendous driving of the ball.”
Diaz then cited McIlroy’s occasionally erratic iron play and short game as potential culprits for his failure to win another major.
“I just think of his game more as suited kind of week-to-week PGA Tour golf than major championship golf because those nuances that perhaps he didn’t develop to the fullest extent for a super-great player cost him on major championship weekends,” he said.
Then, Brandel Chamblee weighed in.
“It’s almost like he’s trying to win his first major all over again,” Chamblee said. “Except now, he’s not in his physical prime, and he’s got the weight of the world on his back.”
Chamblee then compared every major-less year to another brick in a building wall, making it that much harder for McIlroy to break through.
When “Live From” co-panelist Brad Faxon pushed back on the notion that McIlroy, 34, is past his physical prime, Chamblee elaborated his point.
“You reach your physical prime at about 26, 27, 28,” Chamblee said. “Now I know you think he’s ripped, and he is ripped, all right? But you reach your physical prime 26, 27.”
Chamblee then cited soccer players who are dismissed from teams at that age, because statistics show that the players are past their physical prime in terms of mental and optical acuity, nerves and speed.
“I realize he’s rippin’ it and he looks like a Greek god,” Chamblee continued. “But I’m talkin’ about, at 34, he doesn’t have as much runway in front of him as he did when he won his last major championship.”
Faxon countered with evidence of McIlroy’s athletic prowess, citing McIlroy’s impressive Peloton stats and the fact that McIlroy told him he believes he can continue competing until he’s 50, which seemed unfathomable to him when he first turned pro.
“That 32-year-old age is kind of a prime of a golfer’s career,” Faxon countered. Indeed, Phil Mickelson famously won all six of his majors after age 34.
One attribute of McIlroy’s that the whole panel could agree on was his ability to grind.
“As much as we talk about it, we talk about so much about, Rory and not winning a major, can you imagine what goes on in his head and now he’s gotta wait ’til April next year?” Faxon asked.
Another thing we can all agree on? The 2024 Masters can’t get here soon enough.
To watch the entire “Live From” discussion on McIlroy, click here.