independent

Saturday 25 March 2017

Rory thinks of the children

Rory McIlroy shows his amazement at a missed putt during the 2012 Irish Open Golf Championship. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Rory McIlroy shows his amazement at a missed putt during the 2012 Irish Open Golf Championship. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

SO Rory McIlroy threw a bit of a strop.

Maybe it had something to do with a troublesome wisdom tooth, maybe that was just a convienient excuse, at the end of the day who really cares? He boobed. Not necessarily because he stormed off the course – it's frowned upon, of course, but it's not exactly unprecedented – he boobed because he did what he did while he was the world's number one golfer.

If the Holywood man wasn't aware of what the implications of carrying that title were before, he now knows. The level of scrutiny he's under is far beyond that of any other golfer on the course – with the possible exception of the world's most famous golfer, Tiger Woods – so when he says one thing on the way off the course (that he wasn't in the right place mentally) and another later on (that pain from his wisdom tooth forced his withdrawal) he was always going to get called out on it.

And once he was called out on it he was always going to have to offer some sort of apology, some statement of regret, a declaration that he was going to learn from his mistakes and become a better golfer, a better man. Predictably that's what he did.

"What I did was not good for the tournament, not good for the kids and the fans who were out there watching me. It was not the right thing to do," he told Sports Illustrated earlier this week. "What I should have done is take my drop, chip it on, try to make a five and play my hardest on the back nine, even if I shot 85."

He's a quick study our Rory. He knew what was expected of him and he served up to the media beast exactly what it wanted. He even thought of the children. Maud Flanders would be pleased. I'm sure he regrets doing what he did. It's up to you to decide whether he regrets it because what he did was wrong or because it got him into some hot water.

From our prespective here at The Week in Sport the whole ritual, the outrage, the predictable headlines, the inevitable apology, means precisely nothing. Actors playing parts. The world's a stage. Just as we'll leave it up to you to decide what it was McIlroy geniunely regretted, we'll leave it up to you to decide whether those who expressed shock and disappointment at McIlroy's actions were geniune.

The idea that sports people have some sort of duty to be role models for our young people is one that presists, unhealthily in our view. The only responsibility that sports people have is to themselves and to their colleagues. McIlroy did leave his colleagues down in Florida last week, but the children? Give us a break.

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