After Rory McIlroy injured his ankle in a “kickabout” with friends last Saturday, the world no. 1 sent a text accompanied by a photo to none other than Tiger Woods, seeking advice, according to USA Today’s Steve DiMeglio. Which makes sense given the 14-time major champion’s well-documented history of ailments.
On Wednesday McIlroy announced he would not be able to defend his title and officially pulled out of next week’s Open Championship, which he won last year at Royal Liverpool. The last time the Open was at the Home of Golf, McIlroy finished T3 — despite posting an 80 in the second round due to inclement weather conditions.
Woods believes McIlroy made the right move by deciding to sit out, which is interesting considering Woods has often played or returned to competition perhaps sooner than he should have. That said, maybe he’s learned from those mistakes.
“He sent me a photo the day he did it. We talked about it for a little bit,” Woods told reporters from USA TODAY Sports and ESPN.com on Saturday after spending much of his day with junior golfers to kick off his preparation for the third major of the season. “He said, ‘You’ve been through a lot of injuries over the years,’ so he picked my brain a little bit. We had a good talk. He’s doing the right thing, taking care of his body first before he gets back out here.”
Woods added that McIlroy was “disappointed and frustrated.” After all, it’s the middle of the most important part of the golfing season, particularly with McIlroy having three significant titles to defend, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship, the last major of the year, too.
“No doubt, he’s frustrated that he’s not going to be able to play in the Open Championship, especially here at St. Andrews,” Woods said. “And how well he’s been playing of late, and this golf course really does set up well for him, too. That’s the way it goes. We all get injured at one point in time. Sometimes it’s through the sport or sometimes it’s through fun activities. You just never know.”
Woods avoids partaking in other sporting activities during the week of a tournament. He said that he enjoys playing tennis, but would never touch a racket amidst a competition. However, Woods will occasionally shoot hoops — though only in a game of H.O.R.S.E.
“I’m not going to take a chance of turning an ankle, especially playing basketball,” Woods said. “When I was that young I wasn’t worried about the jumping part or knees. It’s landing on someone’s foot. But shooting horse or shooting, you can control the landing. But playing a pick-up game, no way.”
Of course not. Obviously, everyone is different, but even as a junior golfer, my step-dad forced me in high school to quit skiing, snowboarding and horseback riding (I rode hunter style and jumped ponies competitively) out of fear that I would injure myself and not be able to golf. (Instead, I was rearended when I was 17, which resulted in injury and chronic pain that I still suffer from today and drastically impacted my college career. I didn’t rest and rehab long enough and started playing again too soon, as well.) I resented this stringent edict, as I just wanted to be a “normal” teenager.
So, I understand Rory wanting to have fun with his friends and the reasoning behind the majority of pros backing him up. Tiger also believes in the “you have to live your life” mantra that his fellow competitors have been spewing.
” … You can’t live in a box,” said Woods. “I’ve skied a lot. I like adrenaline. I like feeling that rush. That’s why I love spear fishing, free diving. It’s so peaceful down there. But there is inherent risk in all of that. But you can’t live in a box.”
I’m not sure what he’s trying to say. You should take risks, but not too many? Well, bottom line is what happened to Rory really sucks and it’s a shame he won’t be able to defend his Open Championship title (along with the PGA, too, perhaps). Total buzzkill for the best week in golf that only happens once every five years.