IT WAS Rory McIlroy, but not as we shall see him at Wentworth this week. He was dressed from top to toe in a black, skintight body suit and looked sheepish and out of his comfort zone. And who could blame him?
But then he was asked to swing a club and suddenly everything fell into place. There is no mistaking what some observers have described as the finest swing in the game and, at close proximity, it proved mighty impressive -- fast, balanced and powerful.
The scene, in a room at the clubhouse of Celtic Manor -- the venue of the Ryder Cup in October -- was a mixture of the absurd and the sublime. It could be argued that people will do anything for money, yet there was method in this particular madness -- computer games.
Stitched into the suit on the shoulders, hips, elbows, wrists, thighs, knees and ankles were about 50 shiny spheres designed to reflect light. The suit itself merely absorbs it.
It was to record a 3D stick-man image of McIlroy's swing to build a computer-generated image of the player that will be transferred to the game.
It is a sign of how far McIlroy has come -- at only 21 -- that EA Sports is to put him alongside Tiger Woods when the 2011 version of their PGA Tour game is released this year. And an authentic, readily identifiable swing is part of the package.
"It's unbelievable," McIlroy said on watching his stick-man in motion. "You can see the whole movement. It's got my hip movement and everything. And all the movements are exactly as they should be."
A week on and McIlroy has other thoughts on his mind, primarily the BMW PGA Championship, in which he finished fifth last year. The Irishman is one of five players in the world's top ten challenging for the European Tour's flagship event and he has arrived in buoyant mood after his success at the Quail Hollow Championship -- his first professional victory on US soil -- despite then missing the cut at the Players' Championship.
McIlroy's ability to hold off current and previous Masters champions Phil Mickelson and Angel Cabrera respectively at Quail Hollow was a sign that the Holywood man will fear nobody at Wentworth this week.
His immediate ambitions are to get back to the winner's circle and then to concentrate on the majors. But like many a young player before him, such as Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott, he does not wish to put more pressure on himself by talking up his chances.
"I'll feel a lot more comfortable talking about winning majors when I've won one," he said. But he could not resist looking ahead to the Open Championship at St Andrews in July.
"It's a big opportunity for me to go out and get one early," he said.
©The Times, London