I don't think Rory ever went away really. He's just not been consistently great, has always gone through stretches of stellar playing, and also stretches of what I would call uninspired play.
He is a great interview... he's always come across as genuine and down to earth in his interviews, whether it's been a great week or a bad one. He also isn't fond of being the center of attention, even said as much this past weekend when he said that very few people could perform inside that same attention bubble like Tiger did all those years when he was dominating the sport.
Rory doesn't want any part of that. He'd much rather fly under the radar and manage his own expectations versus having to deal with the expectations of the media and the fans. I think that has played a part the disinterested attitude he's shown at times over the past few years, like he'd rather be somewhere else.
Of course - I guess that's to be expected when someone is struggling with their game and going through a down time. It's easy to stay positive and upbeat when you're playing well and in contention on the weekends, but when you're frustrated it's a completely different story. I guess that's why I like watching Phil play... he's still out there grinding and trying to make birdies, even if it's little more than simply vying to make it inside the top 20. And he's been that way his entire career.
Rory definitely has another gear that no one else has. When he's on, when he's putting well - nobody can beat him.
Sometimes I just wonder however if his desire to avoid that 24/7 attention bubble has compromised his desire to achieve that same level of success that Tiger achieved. Maybe he's happy with being a top-10 player with an occasional major victory every few years.
He ain't showing up to these tournaments for money any longer. That ship sailed a long time ago.
But when he's playing like he played yesterday, he's fun to watch. I hope he can keep it going, would love to see him win his first green jacket.