Monday 20 May 2019

'I didn't want to play anymore'- Rory McIlroy reveals the moment he almost walked away from golf

James Nesbitt interviews Rory McIlroy on stage at ‘An Evening with Rory’ at Dublin’s Convention Centre
James Nesbitt interviews Rory McIlroy on stage at ‘An Evening with Rory’ at Dublin’s Convention Centre
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

We know Rory McIlroy as a golfing prodigy who showed immense talent for the game from a very young age but he may never have swung a club in the pros had he listened to his teenage self.

Despite enjoying unprecedented success at underage golf in Ireland, McIlroy revealed this evening that he told his parents he wanted to quit the sport when he was in school.

Speaking at an event in the Convention Centre in aid of his foundation, the Northern Irishman spoke of his frustration at being denied a normal teenage experience because of the intense training regime his golf required.

"I remember when I was 16 I didn't want to play golf anymore," he said.

"It was a typical teenage phase. It was probably because I wasn't able to hang around with my friends as much as I would have liked.

"I told my parents I wanted to quit and they said okay, now you will have to spend more time on your school work. I went back pretty soon after that."

It is a good thing for McIlroy that he persisted with the sport, as he has since won eleven times on the PGA Tour in America, including four major championships. However, he admitted that one of his most formative experiences as a professional was a major he didn't win - the 2011 Masters.

He entered the final round with a four shot lead but shot a disastrous 80 to finish ten shots behind eventual winner Charl Schwartzel. McIlroy explains that he lost track of his emotions, and couldn't regain his composure.

Memorably, he reached the back nine with a one shot lead despite playing poorly, before capitulating completely thereafter.

"It was the only time my mind has gone blank on the golf course," McIlroy said.

"You get so frazzled. I actually had a one shot lead on the tenth but I wasn't thinking clearly.

"I spent the last five holes thinking about what I was going to say. I knew it was something that people would be talking about. That is why my interview afterwards was so good, I spent about two hours thinking about it."

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