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Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Gary Player gives Rory advice

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Could Rory McIlroy's high-profile relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki prevent him from fulfilling his potential?

Nine-time major champion Gary Player, 77, thinks so and told McIlroy as much via an interview with "My Sporting Life" on talk Sport UK.

"He's got to be intelligent and find the right wife. If he finds the right wife, if he practices and if he's dedicated, he could be the man," Player said.

McIlroy, 24, is currently mired in a disappointing season by his own standards. Although he's ranked third in the world, he is 35th on the PGA Tour in scoring average and has failed to even contend at a major in 2013. The Northern Irishman has also not won since moving to new sponsors Nike at the start of the year.

Player implied that McIlroy's commitment to traveling regularly to see Wozniacki play might mean he does not practice enough.

Player said McIlroy needs a partner who is dedicated only to aiding his career.

"When you're in love as a young man naturally golf seems to take second place for a while. It's natural," Player said. "Love is still the greatest thing that ever happens in our lives.

"But the thing is for a man like Rory with talent galore he's got to make sure he has a woman like I've got, who has been married [to me] for 56 years, that has only encouraged me to do well and made sacrifices," he said.

Player cited McIlroy's schedule, which has seen him take off weeks at a time before and after significant tournaments, as a concern.

"I love Rory McIlroy, he's got talent like you can't believe but I was quite perturbed when I saw him win the U.S. Open [in 2011] and then the next tournament that he played was one month later," Player added. "You can't do that. What he should have done was take a week off after winning the U.S. Open to settle down and then play two tournaments and then the Open. You've got to prepare properly.

"He has a few problems at this stage of his life but everyone has problems. There is no Utopia, everyone has a problem of some kind. He'll sort it out. He's got wonderful parents. He's got great talent. He'll come back."

McIlroy has a busy stretch upcoming. He plays the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational this weekend, followed by his defense of the PGA Championship. Two weeks later, the FedEx Cup playoffs begin.