Rory McIlroy is suffering from a lack of confidence after failing to convert numerous winning positions into tournament victories, according to Paul McGinley.
Ryder Cup captain McGinley has seen McIlroy appear in nine final groups on Sundays since the start of 2018 without lifting the trophy, most recently when defending his Arnold Palmer Invitational title at Bay Hill.
McIlroy has at least finished in the top six in all five of his events so far in 2019 ahead of this week’s Players Championship at Sawgrass, and McGinley admitted: “I think it’s great to see him playing as consistent as he has because that’s something that’s been missing from his career.
“One of the things that’s been great to watch with Rory over the years is the fact that when he gets hot he gets really hot and he generally wins. That hasn’t been the trend the last couple of years.
“He’s become a little bit more consistent, we all know how talented he is, but golf is about winning and there’s no doubt he’s got an issue on a Sunday and it’s growing.
“There’s a lot of questions being asked. We have a saying in Ireland, ‘When the dogs are barking, keep walking’ because he’s got a lot of people barking in his ear.
“A lot of people, like we are right now, are questioning why he’s not getting it done on Sunday.
“Is it a question of guile? No. He’s won big tournaments in the past, but he’s lost his confidence when it comes down to the last day.
“Rory - more than anybody else I know in the game - is an inspirational player and when he gets inspired, he’s great. But he’s not got that inspiration on a Sunday.
“I always believe Rory plays his best when he’s got a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. That’s what I would like to see Rory coming back with on a Sunday, ‘Get out of my way, here I come’.”
Speaking before the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he would go into the final round a shot behind leader Matt Fitzpatrick and shoot a closing 72, McIlroy said he was “coming to terms better with perceived losses” and was prepared to go through a dry spell if it resulted in “five or six-win seasons”.
However, McGinley feels that is not the right attitude for the four-time major winner and former world number one to have.
“I know he’s working on ‘It’s another round, I’m just going to play and be relaxed and all that’,” McGinley told the Golf Channel. “I think Rory’s better when he’s got an edge about him, something to prove.
“When these dogs are barking like we are right now, I’m hoping that’s the kind of thing that’s going to motivate him to think ‘I’m going to show these guys’.
“When he has that attitude, that’s when he bursts through.”