The issue with Rory, imo, is struggling to fight through what seems to me to be a significant degree of indifference. Back in 2014 - a remarkable season for him - I followed him at Wentworth the week he won there. Wentworth isn't an easy course whatsoever, and the greens can be very difficult to read. He was playing very, very well that week, and the day I followed him - he just didn't seem like he enjoyed being out there, as though there was someplace else he would rather be. He shot 69 that day, and you could've just as easily mistaken it for a 79 based on his mood and overall demeanor.
Two months later he wins the Open Championship, then wins the WGC Bridgestone two weeks later. The very next week he won the PGA Championship at Valhalla. We're talking a crazy-good summer of golf for the lad. So good that it prompted this comment from Nicklaus: "Rory is unbelievably talented. I love his rhythm and his golf swing, he could win 15-20 majors if he wants to keep playing that long."
Jack, of course, has never been accused of being tight-lipped regarding saying nice things about today's stars. While everyone else has pretty much written Tiger off, which is certainly a legit opinion based on the evidence from the past couple of seasons, Jack still refuses to write him off, saying that it is still very possible that Woods could catch him if he's playing injury-free. But when he said that about Rory back in 2014 - he wasn't just being complimentary for the sake of just being nice. Rory, when he is focused and he is on his game, is clearly more talented than Tiger ever was at any point in his career. His proximity to the hole is off the charts... he hits the ball so high, hits it so far... on a windy day he struggles a bit, of course, but so do a lot of other top players.
But when things aren't going as planned, when he has no other choice but to scratch and claw to grind out a reasonable score and stay somewhat in the picture, that's the one area where he comes up short to Tiger in the comparison. Woods could win hitting it all over the place. Rory can't. And the difference, imo, is that back when Woods was Rory's age - he lived for that challenge. There was no quitting. And on the rare occasion that Woods wasn't able to salvage a respectable finish for the week - he shrugged it off and worked harder to prepare for the next tournament.
Rory, as great as he can be and as talented as he is, has yet to show that he can overcome a bad round of golf well enough to still keep himself in contention. Now certainly - he's shown the ability to shoot some really good rounds on Sunday to place well after he'd shot himself out of the race the day or two before... but at that point there's not really any pressure, when you're so far back that you're one of the first groups out Sunday morning.
His putting... it just mirrors his attitude really. There's no doubt that he's struggling with getting the ball in the hole, but I think that's a symptom more than a cause. It's a symptom of a player who struggles to stay interested, who doesn't seem overly motivated very often when things are going south, and dare I say it? - someone who probably just doesn't seem committed to everything required to be consistently great.
I know these guys go through ups and downs in their careers... Stenson is the most recent perfect example, lost his way twice and yet still kept fighting and refused to give up. As great a talent as Rory is, he doesn't seem to have that persevering quality that many of his peers have. And at this stage of his career - I've seen nothing to suggest that he seems determined to find it.
His putting is definitely not helping matters, but I think his struggles go much deeper than that. He seldom seems like he wants to be out there. Last month, in an interview with Feherty - he said that he doesn't play golf for fun anymore.
Might be the understatement of the year.