Golfers feel the pressure of having to sustain excellence more than any other professional athletes because of the fact that opportunities of winning are fleeting, especially in golf. And to be able to correctly capitalize on those chances does need mastery.
Rory McIlroy is mastering all these aspects as if he has no care in the world. There is currently nothing to stand in his way while he is at the Valhalla Golf Club, leading the Open Championship and the PGA Championship. For the last month he has been in this position and, according to him, he has loved every minute of it. On Saturday evening, McIlroy expressed his enthusiasm for the position he finds himself in, with the championship trophy in his grasp. He said that there was no place he would rather be than where he is right now.
McIlroy is now one step away from accomplishing what Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods also accomplished: winning four back-to-back major championships. Rory is currently atop the leaderboard and only one day separates him from his well deserved trophy.
In his past seven championship rounds, McIlroy managed to shoot 30-under par each time, and in spite of his few tense moments and not-so-lucky shots (who were probably only so evident because of the spotlight that has been shining on him for the past weeks), it seems that he stands a tremendous chance of succeeding to win his fourth major consecutive championship.
He admitted that the stress is enormous at some point, but reminded everyone (himself included) that all his work in the practice range isn’t put in so that in the middle of a Sunday major, he falls somewhere in the middle of the pack.
In fact, McIlroy explained that he would be disappointed if he wouldn’t feel the stress and anxiety during the season.
What McIlroy fears is that one of the other 18 players he faces (and who are within 6 strokes of the lead) could snatch his hard-worked trophy from under his fingers.
Unlike other major tournaments he has played (such as the Congressional of 2011, the PGA Championship of 2012 or the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool), there is no room for mistakes here.
During the final round, McIlroy will play with Bernd Wiesberger of Austria, who is currently one shot out of the lead, followed by Rickie Fowler (2 shots back), Phil Mikelson and Jason Day (3 shots back).
McIlroy will give it all he has on this final day and see if the cards fall in his favor.