‘We set the bar too high for Rory’ – Sky Sports expert on Rory McIlroy v Brooks Koepka

Rory McIlroy driving

The bar of expectation is set too high for Rory McIlroy and he WILL be a strong contender to win all four majors in 2020, according to Sky Sports golf analyst Gary Murphy.

Speaking to Golf365 in association with La Cala golf resort in Andalucia, Spain, former European Tour professional Murphy suggests McIlroy does not get the credit he deserves after a year that saw him finish on a real high by lifting the FedEx Cup title in thrilling fashion.

McIlroy’s failure to win a major since his 2014 PGA Tour Championship victory at Valhalla has been a source of frustration for the 30-year-old Irishman, but Murphy believes he has the game to outsmart his great rival Brooks Koepka heading into 2020.

“We set the bar way too high for Rory,” Irishman Murphy told us. “People say he had a problem putting four rounds together this consistently this season, but that is only because we expect so much from him.

“Overall, I would say he had a phenomenal season and there is no doubt in my mind that when he is at his best, he is the best player on the planet.

“Brooks Koepka has a lot of bad tournaments this year and didn’t get any grief for it, but we are just too hard on McIlroy. In my mind, if those two players were playing their A-game and were going head-to-head in the final round of a major, I would pick Rory to come out on top.

“You have to remember that Koepka is quite new to all this. He has only been at the top of the game for a couple of years and while he has done great to win four major over the last couple of years, everything seems easy for him at the moment.

“Rory had that experience when he started winning majors a few years back and they flowed for him between 2011 and 2014, but when you lose a few tournaments when they are in your grasp that bulletproof aura is shaken.

“Let’s see what happens when he misses a few putts on the final Sunday of a couple of majors and lets a couple slip through his fingers. Human nature kicks in then and self doubt becomes a big issue.

“At the moment Koepka does not have any scar tissue to content with because the wins have been flowing for him, but I don’t see that continuing indefinitely and Rory should be given more credit for the golf he has played this year.

“He goes out and wins the FedEx and still people are still asking the question why he hasn’t won a major this year, but you cannot pick the exact week in golf when you are going to peak and play at your best. Golf doesn’t work like that.”

Murphy believes McIlroy’s failure to make the cut after a horrible opening round at The Open Championship on his home course of Portrush was a learning curve that will serve him well heading into The Masters at Augusta in August.

“I think Portrush was probably too much for him on a number of levels,” he added. “It was back home in Ireland, the crowd were willing him on and that first round showed that he didn’t deal with it all very well, but I think that will have learned a lot from that.

Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka at FedEx Cup

“We have seen how hyped he gets to try and win The Masters every year and maybe that expectation means he ends up trying too hard, so I would think the experience at Portrush will stand him in good stead when he gets to Augusta next year.

“Also, after the success of the The Open at Portrush, I see the tournament going back there in the not too distant future, so I think he will have another chance to win a major in front of his home fans at some point in his career.

Gary Murphy spoke to Golf365 in association with La Cala Golf Resort in the Costa del Sol. For more information – https://www.lacala.com

Kevin Palmer