Rory McIlroy: Can He Handle His New Life?

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistJuly 20, 2011

SANDWICH, ENGLAND - JULY 16:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts during the third round of The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George's on July 16, 2011 in Sandwich, England.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy has entered a whole new world, and the big question is - can he handle it?
Following his record-setting U.S. Open victory back in June, McIlroy's every move has been documented by the world press.
Whether he is bringing the U.S. Open Trophy home to his club in Holywood, Northern Ireland, attending Wimbledon, complaining about the weather conditions at Royal St. George's, breaking up with his former girlfriend Holly Sweeny, or spotted out and about with his apparent new girlfriend,21-year-old Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, it's all big-time news in this day and age of celebrity worship and 24/7 news coverage.
McIlroy has been a U.S. Open Champion for a mere four weeks, and it didn't take a degree in psychology to see that the kid looked mentally exhausted last Sunday afternoon at the Open Championship, which probably contributed to his lapse in judgment when he began criticising the Open Championship for its weather conditions.
“I'm not a fan of golf tournaments that the outcome is predicted so much by the weather. It's not my sort of golf,” McIlroy said last Sunday at Royal St. George’s following his T-25 finish.
“I mean, my game is suited for basically every golf course and most conditions, but these conditions I just don't enjoy playing in really. That's the bottom line. I'd rather play when it's 80 degrees and sunny and not much wind,” McIlroy continued.
Huh? The weather conditions?
Isn't McIlroy from Northern Ireland, where the rain falls sideways far more often than the sun peeks its head out?
Didn't he grow up playing links courses in the wind, rain, hail, ice, etc.?
Heck, I lived in Ireland for three years and the weather at Royal St. George's last week was a picnic when compared to some of the weather you'll see in Northern Ireland.
McIlroy has often been referred to as the next Tiger Woods, which is a bit unreasonable being that he's only won one major and three professional tournaments in his career.
But with that bold comparison also comes Woods' life, which is essentially a life that will play out in a fish bowl for the next 25 years.
Although McIlroy would undoubtedly love to have Woods' record by the time his career is over and done with, would he also like to live through the same level of scrutiny Woods has had to endure for the last 20 years?
Only McIlory can answer that question, but if his first appearance since winning the U.S. Open is anything to go by, this whole uber-celebrity thing is going to take the kid some time to get used to.
In just the past two days, McIlroy's comments about not liking the Open Championship because of the weather conditions made front page/webpage headlines all over the world , and the very next day McIlroy's love life was making its way around the web when he was spotted having dinner in London with Wozniacki.
Rory, welcome to your new life, and for better or for worse, welcome to the fish bowl you will be living in for the next 25 years.
Can you handle it?
The answer to that question will likely determine the level of success McIlroy will experience both on and off the golf course in the coming years.

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