Rory McIlroy issues stress-related illness warning

Golfer Rory McIlroy expects more sports stars to succumb to stress-related illnesses.

Story highlights

  • Rory McIlroy says pressure in sports is leading to increase in stress-relates illnesses
  • England cricketer Jonathan Trott left the Ashes series this week citing a stress-related illness
  • McIlroy says it shows the mental toll sport can take on athletes
  • The Northern Irishman was speaking ahead of this week's Australian Open in Sydney

Rory McIlroy is well versed to talk about the pressures the modern day sport star faces.

As a former world No.1 golfer and one half of a sporting super couple -- with tennis ace Caroline Wozniacki -- the Northern Irishman knows all about living in the full glare of the media spotlight.

So perhaps it is not surprising that the two-time major winner has warned that as the global interest in sport increases, so will players have to deal with the type of stress-related illness that prompted England cricketer Jonathan Trott to pull out of the Ashes tour.

Trott's decision to come home from Australia has prompted a debate about the relentless schedule of many sports and the support on offer to players if they succumb to mental health issues.

"It's sad to see something like that happen and it just shows what a mental toll sport can take on you sometimes," McIlroy told reporters at Royal Sydney, ahead of this week's Australian Open as he talked about Trott's decision to leave the tour.

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"Hopefully he gets home and spends some time with his family and recovers and can come back.

"As sport becomes so big and there's so much pressure and so much on the line, it's becoming more and more common that these sorts of stress-related illnesses are happening and it just shows how much of a mental toll it takes on you sometimes."

The rivalry between the England and Australia cricket teams is one of the oldest and fiercest in world sport, with the players often exchanging insults on the pitch -- a practice known as "sledging."

The sledging in the current series, which Australia lead 1-0 after winning the first Test match in Melbourne, saw Australia captain Michael Clarke fined for a barb aimed at England bowler James Anderson.

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"I think the sledging this year has probably been a bit worse than other years as well," said McIlroy. "It looks like they're just having a go at each other after every ball ... it would be really tough to take that for however long you're out there for.

"They seem to really get at each other's throat whenever they're in there."

For McIlroy, 2013 has been a frustrating year.

Since switching to playing with Nike clubs, he has struggled to recapture the form which saw him win four PGA Tour and two European Tour events in 2012 as well as the PGA Championship.

"It's been a long year, I guess mentally more than physically," said the world No. 6.

"Physically, golf doesn't take that much out of you but mentally it's quite draining, especially this year for me, not just the golf and being frustrated with my game but having to answer the questions and having to come up with reasons why I'm not playing well and all that stuff."

McIlroy will hope to end the year with a win, but he is up against a strong field in Sydney featuring world No. 2 and home-crowd favorite Adam Scott.

"I've said for the last couple of months I just wanted to try and finish this season strongly and get some momentum to go into 2014," added the 24-year-old McIlroy.

"This would be the perfect place to get that first win of the year and give me a sort of springboard into the next season."

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