Rory defends remarks on Tiger, Phil (*Update)
By Stephanie Wei under FedExCup

In his pre-tournament press conference at East Lake on Wednesday, Rory McIlroy was asked whether the fact that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson had failed to qualify for the Tour Championship symbolized a changing of the guard. The world no. 1 replied, “No,” but he pointed out that Woods and Mickelson, the two faces of the game over the last two decades, were simply getting older. He also stated that they were “getting into sort of the last few holes of their career.”

Rory only declared the obvious reality and added that he would be dealing with the same issues that go along with aging in 20 years. Last I checked, Tiger and Phil aren’t 25 anymore. Tiger is indeed injured. 

Rory wasn’t trying to offend Tiger and Phil, but unfortunately, his remarks didn’t sit well with some who were outraged by the horror of the 25-year-old star asserting the truth.  God forbid!

As someone who attended McIlroy’s pre-tourney presser, I thought he answered the question with deference, eloquence and respect, but I also knew that people would take issue with the “last holes of their career” part. Because many hate facing the truth. They can’t stand to hear anything that could be interpreted as slightly controversial because they’re hero worshippers. They don’t want to realize or accept that their golfing idols for nearly the last 20 years are nearly past their prime (if not, already).

With all the hoopla and indignation over his so-called controversial comments, McIlroy took to Twitter to stick up for himself and elaborate (which was totally unnecessary but nice that he did it).


And there isn’t anything wrong. I’m glad he stuck to his guns.

We complain about golfers (or athletes in general) being so vanilla in their comments. However, then when a bold-faced name actually gives candid, expansive and non-boring opinions, he often gets hit with backlash, particularly via social media. Luckily, Rory doesn’t seem too bothered by it and he’s obviously given honest answers throughout his young career and hasn’t shown any indication of changing.

But there’s no wonder why the pros worry about saying the “wrong” thing or anything that could be interpreted as such, which is why we end up with most of them giving cliched (read: boring) responses. And, unfortunately, most guys don’t have as thick a skin as McIlroy to handle the criticism or stand by their remarks.

UPDATE: Rory spoke with us on the issue after his opening round one-under, 69 today…

“Yeah, I had to go on Twitter. I thought I was very complimentary. I said, the only reason Tiger isn’t here is because he hasn’t had the opportunity. And of course, a healthy Tiger is going to be here. I wasn’t writing him or Phil off at all. Phil withdrew last week — it was a long, long stretch of golf for him. You know, he battles an arthritic condition.

“It’s just what it is. I didn’t say anything out of line or anything wrong. I was trying to be funny at the end, saying, I’ll tell you what it’s like in 20 years. But you know, I think you guys know how it was supposed to come out, so I think it was taken out of context a bit.

“I was just going through Twitter last night and I was like, hold on a minute, did I say something bad here? I don’t think I did. Look, I know Tiger and Phil really well. I get on really well with both the guys. I’ve said much worse to Tiger before, so…(laughter)

“I was like, hold on a minute here, I don’t know what I’m getting this (backlash) here. I just had to clarify on Twitter. I guess I felt like I had to clarify what I said.

“As I said, I’ve said worse to (Tiger’s) face.”