GOLF superstar Rory McIlroy says the plight of English cricketer Jonathan Trott highlights the ruthless nature of modern-day professional sport.
Trott has flown home to England to deal with a stress-related illness and will miss the remainder of the Ashes series against Australia.
"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," McIlroy said on the eve of the Australian Open at Royal Sydney.
"It's sad to see something like that happen ... hopefully he gets home and spends some time with his family and recovers and can come back.
"I guess it's becoming more and more, as sport becomes so big and there's so much pressure and so much on the line."
McIlroy, a self-confessed cricket fan, said the sledging this Ashes series seems to have been more fierce than in previous series.
"I think with those boys as well, I think the sledging this year has probably been a bit worse than other years as well," said the Northern Irishman.
"It looks like they're just having a go at each other after every ball.
"It would be tough; 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."
Asked who he'd like to see win the Ashes, McIlroy said he was cheering on Australia.
"Anyone but England isn't it?" he said, half joking.
"No. Yeah, I must say, I do like when the Ashes is on. Even a few years ago when I was back home getting up at midnight to watch the first ball bowled at the Boxing Day Test matches, something like that.
"It's always something that I was quite interested in. I mean, the Aussies had a pretty convincing victory up there in Brisbane so maybe more of the same.
"Hopefully (we see) more of the same."
Want video tips delivered straight to your inbox? Subscribe to iseekgolf.com newsletters.