Thought for the Day
If you really want to do something you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse
Rory discovers the realities of the good life
Everyone has a boss; someone to whom they are answerable. Even the megalomaniac tycoon has to consider shareholders, or the customers who buy his services or products. So it is little surprise to learn that tour golfers, including the best in the world, have to dance to someone else’s tune. You may have thought that, as self-employed, independent practitioners who sink or swim by their own efforts each week, the tour pros might be immune to such pressures but it ain’t so – just ask Rory McIlroy.
He, you may remember, damaged his ribs in practice way back in December. He tried to get an early start to the season during the ‘desert swing’ in the Middle East after playing one event in South Africa but withdrew from the Abu Dhabi WGC Championship, hoping to get fit in time for the Masters. Unfortunately, the pattern of heralded comeback followed by disappointing results and more withdrawals has continued throughout the season. Following the last major of 2017, the USPGA Championship, he announced to no real surprise that he might miss the rest of the year.
Some of us fervently hoped he would, and write-off 2017 as a bad lot. We wanted him to see his dismal year as a consequence of an initial problem being constantly exacerbated by premature attempts to get back into competition. It was something of an unexpected revelation, therefore, when he returned to compete in the FedEx playoffs over recent weeks. It was no surprise, however, to see him play badly by his standards and frankly, not look too bothered at his lacklustre performances. When he failed to make the final 30 who will tee it up this week in the Tour Championship we gained an insight into why he continues to push his body beyond its comfortable or safe limits.
He said: ‘Some decisions aren’t completely up to the individual. There was outside expectation from elsewhere. I played these events for two reasons – thinking I still had a chance but trying to fulfil obligations elsewhere.’
It doesn’t take too much insight to imagine that these external expectations are from the major sponsors, Nike and TaylorMade, who pay the Northern Irishman an amount that could total $350 million over 10 years, although much of this may be performance based. The irony is that the original rib injury Rory suffered will have been exacerbated, if not directly caused, by the number of drivers he had to hit in the closed season. He was searching for a new equipment manufacturer after Nike announced it was quitting production of golf balls and clubs.
When you swing as hard as Rory does, especially with a driver, which is where he concentrated much of his practice efforts, even a young, fit and athletic golfer can create injuries – just ask Tiger Woods. And the manufacturers who provide Rory with the clothes he wears (Nike) and equipment he plays (TaylorMade) want to see a return on their investment. Winning tournaments is one way that Rory justifies this fee but even more important is visibility.
He excites crowds and is the subject of considerable TV coverage, irrespective of how he plays. Like Tiger, and Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson, he is news whether he shoots 65 or 75. So the sponsors want him to compete and be seen wearing or brandishing their stuff, and the golfer drags himself around another golf course when all he really wants or needs to do is rest up and recover. Sadly, it also looks as if he will honour one final commitment and play in next month’s Dunhill Links Championship.
There must be a lot of good things that attach themselves to being Rory McIlroy but every life also comes with its share of crap.
I couldn’t help but notice during the Evian Championship, the last women’s major of the year (admirably won by Ann Nordqvist) that it can at times be difficult to follow the women’s game. Five of the competitors had the surname Lee, there were the same number of Kims, two Fengs and two Chois. For someone who has trouble keeping Charley Hull and Georgia Hall separate in my mind this duplication can be a bit intimidating.
Thankfully for those of us who have to type these things out, there was only one golfer in the field with the last name of Santiwiwatthanaphong (she missed the cut).
Quote of the Week
The devoted golfer is an anguished soul who has learned a lot about putting, just as an avalanche victim has learned a lot about snow