Paul McGinley expects Rory McIlroy to face down Jordan Spieth and Jason Day for world domination. But he’s warned new kid on the block Shane Lowry to be careful of the pitfalls as he prepares to chase his American dream.
Last year’s European Ryder Cup captain sees Spieth and Day as major threats to McIlroy as world No 1 and the dominant player in the majors.
But he’s also sure that the Holywood star, 26, can stand pick up the gauntlet even if Spieth takes his world No 1 crown today with his third major victory of the season.
Believing Spieth and Day are actually going to be good for McIlroy’s game, McGinley said: “What this game thrives on is rivalry and I think I for one am pulling for Jordan as well.
“As much as I am a Rory fan and I want to see Rory win majors, I am also supporting Jordan because I know Jordan is going to push Rory.
“It is good for the game and the sport of golf and it is healthy for both of the players.”
McGinley sees Aussie ace Day as another big threat and like Spieth, he sees the short game as the biggest asset he has over McIlroy’s long game brilliance.
McGinley said: “I think everyone would agree that Rory has a different gear to everyone else in terms of the long game.
“But Jordan also has a different gear in terms of the short game. And it’s not just Jordan — you have to fancy Jason Day too.
“Looking at his physique, you’d think it was his length that was his strength but the strength of his game is his short game.
"And when you combine that with his length off the tee, it’s a very good combo when it comes to majors. And he’s very ambitious too. He looks like a man on a mission this week.
“What’s great for Rory in all of this is that he’s being driven forward and that’s healthy. That's been proved in every other sport, not just golf. The rivalry with Jordan is very healthy from Rory’s perspective.
“Has Rory got an X factor Spieth and Day don’t have? He certainly has it in the long game. Not in putting and we saw it in the first round here when he was the only one to hit it pin high on the second into that right to left wind. Nobody else in the game can do that.
“We have seen him go away from fields and go into overdrive. We saw it in Quail Hollow this year when he shot that 61 on Saturday and won by seven.
“He has that extra gift to go into overdrive to pull away that the other guys don’t have but they will pose a challenge and that’s always been something Rory has thrived on.
“One of the things that Rory has done in his whole career is respond very strongly to challenges and he has another challenge now with a guy who has won two major championships as Jordan Spieth has done this year.
“It’s good for Rory, healthy for Rory and he has always reacted well in the past. He is going to react well to this again. I am looking on it as a real positive.”
McGinley had dinner with Lowry in Akron and sees the Offaly man’s breakthrough win in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last weekend as a proud moment for Irish golf.
But with Lowry now taking up his PGA Tour card for next season, McGinley has warned him to be careful not to make basic mistakes that have cost players in the past.
McGinley warned: “Shane has made incredible progress in a short space of time from the incredible achievement of winning the Irish Open as an amateur to establish himself in Europe and then to come over her and win one of the biggest events in world golf.
“But a word of warning for Shane - the goal posts have shifted so much for him he has got to make massive decisions going forward that will affect everything related to his golf.
“Where he is going to base himself? How much he is going to play? How is he going to tackle new venues?
“It is quite clear that America is going to be a big part of his future. He has the Olympics coming up next year, he has the Ryder Cup coming up. He has to plan his schedule.
“He has commitments and he won’t just be able to nip home to Offaly every weekend or every Sunday night they way he can on the European Tour.
“He’s got massive decisions to make in the next six months don top of all that the extra press coverage and extra attention that’s going to be based on that having won such a big tourament.
“I am excited for Shane but I also know that this crossroads in his career with the new doors that open, also provides big challenges as well.
“To take good decisions going forward is important and he has a good team around him — people who he trusts that had been there a long time. And I am sure they will help him take the right decisions.”