The four-time major winner is under intense scrutiny again this week after coughing up a one-shot overnight lead in Abu Dhabi, the eighth time in 11 tries he has been second or third in the European Tour’s season opener without ever winning.

That is an extraordinary – and one assumes frustrating – statistic by any measure. That a player of his calibre could be so close, so often, without ever lifting the trophy is frankly baffling.

But to me it is all part of the Northern Irishman’s charm. At his best he not only looks unbeatable (most of the very best do) but morphs into a golfer you simply cannot take your eyes off.

The bounce in the step, the free-flowing swing, the extraordinary shots and the child like joy he takes in showing off his rare gifts all add up to something captivating.

"It is Rory’s contributions to the game off the course that are his most important." - Rod Morri

Yet the other Rory – the one who can inexplicably miss a green with a sand wedge from 100 yards and whose head can drop and shoulders can slump as another putt misses – is somehow almost as compelling to watch.

Physically, there is almost nothing McIlroy can’t do with a golf club. But golf at the top level is not about merely the physical.

There is a point where elite golf becomes more about attitude than aptitude and it is here Rory seems so different.

Where Tiger Woods’ physical talent allowed him to become dominant on the back of a single mindedness that bordered on inhuman, McIlroy has almost none of that.

Not that he doesn’t work hard or that he doesn’t ‘want it’ (whatever ‘it’ might be) but that unlike Woods, Rory is human and happy to be so.

For mine, it is Rory’s contributions to the game off the course that are his most important.

He is one of a minority at the top level who is genuinely thoughtful and able to see the world more broadly than simply through his own lived experience.

In interviews he is engaging, articulate and honest to a fault. He owns up to mistakes and gives answers he knows will cause more angst for him down the track.

But he does it because it is the right thing to do and he accepts the responsibility his position in the game demands: to make a legitimate contribution, not add to the endless vanilla cliches so many fall back on.

Players like McIlroy are a gift to us all for more than just the sheer delight of watching them play.

That is its own reward but it is the other stuff that puts a player in the next tier and McIlroy has that in spades.

Now if we could just get him across the line at Augusta National to tick off the career Grand Slam, he could push for a spot in the pantheon of all-time greats.