Golf fans will remember Rory McIlroy’s painful unraveling at the Masters in April, a colossal collapse where he lost a four-shot lead on the final day of the historic tournament. Charl Schwartzel’s win that day was dramatic and well-earned, but it left the 22-year-old McIlroy reeling. The Irishman’s subsequent tournament play in May and early June was lackluster – that is, until this past weekend when he won the U.S. Open.
Analysts and commentators were quick to seize on the turnaround. What was it that shook him from his funk? Did he adjust his swing? S
witch to a different set of clubs? Hire a new caddie?
It turns out that unlike at Augusta, Rory’s father spent the week with him at the U.S. Open. In fact, they made a point to have breakfast together every morning. Just a father and a son, eating and talking. According to press reports, Gerry Mcllroy spent the entire week encouraging and affirming his boy, providing a sage and soothing voice in the midst of the hype and hoopla of a high-stress professional golf tournament.
The research is profound and overwhelming. Children with involved fathers do significantly better in every category of life. But Gerry’s relationship with Rory is a good reminder that a “child” is never too old to benefit from the influence of his father. Most young adults won’t ask for help or maybe even conversation from their dad – but it’s a wise father who seeks his son or daughter out and invests his time in them, whether on a golf course, over a meal or even for just five minutes on the phone.