Rory McIlroy has come under fire for any number of missteps during a winless 2013 season, but one of his Ryder Cup teammates believes enough is enough.
"Give him a break," Ian Poulter told reporters Wednesday. "I guess in the outside world, there’s been a lot of talk obviously of Rory, world No. 1, two majors at a very early age. Everybody expects Rory to continue to win big tournaments, and he will.
"The fact of signing a big endorsement deal and then changing equipment manufacturers come under a lot of scrutiny as well," Poulter noted about McIlroy’s well-publicized move from Titleist to Nike to start his lackluster year. "So he’s had a lot of extra pressure to go out there and play golf."
Poulter quipped that he should be seeking advice from the winner of two majors, rather than the other way around. His remarks sparked a somewhat testy dialogue with a member of the fourth estate (Global Golf Post’s John Hopkins, according to Geoff Shackleford) when Caroline Wozniacki’s frustrated beau took the stand -- that is, the podium.
"Should you lay off me? That's not for me to decide," McIlroy said. "It would be nicer just to sit up here, talk about some more positive things, but the way this year's gone, it's understandable why I'm not."
McIlroy begins the defense of his 2012 PGA title at 1:25 p.m. ET off tee No. 1.