• PGA Tour

Player: McIlroy can't be distracted by relationship

ESPN staff
July 30, 2013
Rory McIlroy has struggled for form in 2013 © Getty Images

Nine-time major champion Gary Player believes Rory McIlroy's high-profile relationship could prevent him fulfilling his potential.

McIlroy, 24, is currently mired in a disappointing season by his own high standards, having failed to even contend at a major in 2013. The Northern Irishman has also not won since moving to new sponsors Nike at the start of the year, sparking speculation and regular inquests into his poor form.

Player believes McIlroy's relationship with tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki could be the source of his problems, with McIlroy's commitment to travelling to see Wozniacki regularly perhaps meaning he does not practise enough.

The 77-year-old believes McIlroy needs a partner who is dedicated only to aiding his career.

"When you're in love as a young man naturally golf seems to take second place for a while. It's natural," Player said. "Love is still the greatest thing that ever happens in our lives.

"But the thing is for a man like Rory with talent galore he's got to make sure he has a woman like I've got, who has been married [to me] for 56 years, that has only encouraged me to do well and made sacrifices.

"He's got to be intelligent and find the right wife. If he finds the right wife, if he practises and if he's dedicated, he could be the man."

Player cited McIlroy's schedule, which has seen him take off weeks at a time before and after significant tournaments, as a concern.

"I love Rory McIlroy, he's got talent like you can't believe but I was quite perturbed when I saw him win the US Open [in 2011] and then the next tournament that he played was one month later," Player added.

"You can't do that. What he should have done was take a week off after winning the US Open to settle down and then play two tournaments and then the Open. You've got to prepare properly.

"He has a few problems at this stage of his life but everyone has problems. There is no Utopia everyone has a problem of some kind.

"He'll sort it out. He's got wonderful parents. He's got great talent. He'll come back."

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