Documenting Rory McIlroy’s Woes, & Brooks Koepka Rivalry, is a Highlight on ‘Full Swing’

Rory McIlroy.

Getty Rory McIlroy gets frustrated during a round in 2015.

Documenting Rory McIlroy‘s modern day woes was an early highlight on the first episode of Netflix’s smash-hit golf series ‘Full Swing,’ launched March 6.

McIlroy enjoyed the greatest years of his pro career between 2011 and 2014. During that run, he won the US Open, the Open Championship, and the PGA Championship twice.

Since then, he’s become a face for the PGA Tour and a critic of its rival — the breakaway Saudi-backed LIV Golf.

Though he’s come close to winning a fifth major, it’s been 10 years since scooping his peak achievements.

In the opening episode of ‘Full Swing,’ Netflix showed McIlroy’s awareness that his ambassadorial role with the PGA Tour may have made a casualty of his ability to finish in first place at golf’s grandest tournaments.

“For me, I know that [the] clock is ticking,” McIlroy said on the program.

“I know I was able to knock off four major championships quite quickly in my career, but I know I’ve been stuck on four for a while.

“I don’t deserve — no-one deserves — anything in this game. Nothing is handed to you. It’s all earned, and I feel ready to earn it again.”

After an opening round of +1 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, McIroy is climbing the leaderboard thanks to a -2 score in the second round; now six shots behind clubhouse leader Shane Lowry with -7 for the tournament to date.

He’ll have to re-find momentum if he is to one-up in April his personal record finish at The Masters — second in 2022 — and win the one major to elude his career.

But he has to do that while juggling with responsibilities as the face of the PGA Tour, and one of the most prominent critics of LIV Golf.

“It’s a matter of balancing it,” he said.

McIlroy Has a New Motivation

A key motivator for McIlroy may well be Brooks Koepka.

The American arguably represents LIV how McIlroy reps the PGA as a high-profile, elite golfer who can act as an advocate for his tour.

One glaring difference between them, though, is that after Koepka’s victory at the 2023 PGA Championship, McIlroy is no longer the winningest golfer of his time.

That title triumph put Koepka on five career majors to McIlroy’s four, and appears to have given the Ulsterman food for thought.

Koepka’s fifth major, McIlroy said, made him want to “focus on the golf for a wee little bit” rather than over-commit to ambassadorial obligations.

LIV’s Golfers Silenced Critics in 2023

Another theme from the first episode of ‘Full Swing’ was the changing of opinion regarding the top tier golfers who left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf.

Barstool Sports reporter Dan Rapaport explained on the show: “The guys on LIV got hundreds of millions of dollars to leave the PGA Tour, and some huge names did leave.

“Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka — all gone. Major champions like Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Cameron Smith — they joined them.

“These guys are unbelievable golfers, don’t get me wrong,” Rapaport said, “but there is a consensus in the golf world that they just took the money, and they’re not working nearly as hard.”

Koepka, speaking during a press conference Netflix aired as part of the documentary, said: “I’ve been reading the same thing — I think it’s manufactured by the media that we can’t compete anymore, that we’re washed up.”

As Koepka and other LIV golfers competed masterfully at the biggest golf events of the year, they helped silence their biggest critics.

“It’s hard to argue that they’re not still incredible players who are capable of performing at a world class level,” golf writer Rapaport said.

“And it’s no different just because they went to a different tour.”