It’s not been the best of times for Rory McIlroy, since he signed his mega-bucks deal with Nike. The form which caused the sportswear giant to bring him into their superstar fold, has temporarily deserted the Irishman.
Prompting many to question, whether his sudden course walk-off in Florida, is a sign of a golfer struggling to handle the intense demands upon him.
Well it wouldn’t be a surprise if the pressure to deliver for his corporate sponsor, was affecting the way Rory plays. When you are being paid the sort of money he is, and positioned as a Brand Ambassador, suddenly the world must feel different.
This kind of mega-deal can bring with it a change in psychological dynamics. For Rory may well feel, that he has to justify the sponsors trust and belief in him. In other words, play an ‘unbelievable’ brand of golf, that somehow matches the enormous price he is being paid.
And there is the change in psychology that comes with being a Brand Ambassador. You are no longer happy-go-lucky Rory McIlroy. Now you are a walking advert for Nike. Is there any margin for failure, when there is so much on the line?
No wonder he doesn’t feel in a great place mentally. He is no longer playing for himself. He is playing for corporate America. And the burden of expectancy may well be weighing heavy. When you carry a heavy burden of expectancy, the game will cease to be fun. Freedom to hit shots naturally, becomes a pressure to not make mistakes.
Pretty quickly Rory needs to sit down, and learn how to separate out some conflicting dynamics. Which are, his natural way and style of playing top level golf, against what he feels is expected of him as a Corporate Brand Ambassador.
He has to abandon the notion of perfectionism, re-align his thinking and understand the reasons why Nike wanted to pay top dollar for him in the first place. When you are the best in the world, it is still ok to fail. It’s how you respond that makes you the best!