Gary Player is backing Rory McIlroy to bounce back from his desperately disappointing display at the Open Championship, believing the Northern Irishman will learn from the experience.
Much was expected of home hopeful McIlroy at Royal Portrush last week, but a quadruple bogey at the first set the tone for a miserable opening round as he carded a 79.
Despite a recovery on Friday, the four-time major champion fell one stroke short of the cut line and bowed out before the weekend.
But while a lot has been said and written about McIlroy’s dismal start and end to his first 18 – finishing with a triple bogey at the last – Player sees another lesson in the day’s play.
McIlroy three-putted from inside five feet for a double bogey at 16 and, had he kept his composure, victory would still have been a possibility, according to three-time Open champion Player.
Regardless, the South African sees McIlroy, still just 30, soon ending a wait for a major title that goes back to 2014.
“When you’re as prominent a player as Rory and something happens, everybody is quick to be critical, as people are in life,” Player told Omnisport, speaking at The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational.
— Gary Player Events (@GPInvitational) July 22, 2019
“He learned a very good lesson, because he didn’t buckle down on two short putts and missed them and then ended up missing the cut by one shot.
“If he’d made the cut, he could have gone on to win the tournament because you’re talking about one of the three most talented men in the world today. I’m a big Rory fan.
“He made a mistake, so what? Is there anybody who plays golf that hasn’t? No, I’ve never seen that happen.
“He’s won four majors already, which is remarkable. He just won the Canadian Open with 20-something  under par.
“People are very quick to give an opinion. He’ll go on to win a lot more majors and tournaments. He’s tremendously talented.”