Sport Golf

Saturday 24 March 2018

Rory right to shoot off from the hip

Billy Keane

Billy Keane

It's only a matter of time before they put the parental control on Rory's Twitter.

For those of you not familiar with Twitter, let me explain. Twitter is a form of communication. It's a bit like a shotgun. No home should have one. It's just too easy to blast when the mood hits you. The usual targets of shotguns are magpies, the mass murderers of the bird world. They are no great loss, other than to other magpies, but Rory took aim at a Jay. His surname is Townsend and he is a journalist. A protected species.

Rory said Jay Townsend was a failed golfer after Townsend as much as called for the head of Rory's caddie, JP Fitzgerald.

Mistake, Rory. The media is full of failed sportsmen. Writing about it is the next best thing to playing. Some of my colleagues are vengeful.

Here's what led to the Twitter battle. Rory hit a wedge into the water from a bunker at the last on Thursday. I was there. It was never on, even if he played skin-the-cat with his ball.

Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck put it thus; "Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard." The cagey would say Rory should have ignored the provocative tweet but he took the bait.

And he was dead right. How dare Townsend call for the sacking of JP. He was not privy to the intimate conversations of a caddie and his main man.

Young lads take no notice of shooting off on Twitter. Young lads are impetuous. We were all a bit hasty but there was no permanent record and half the world wasn't tracking our every utterance. Rory said, "it was funny" and he meant it. I'm not so sure if it is, for him, in the long term.

There's a sign on the door of a building right next to the Media Centre. It reads 'Players Creche'. But young Rory wasn't in there as many of his erstwhile detractors would have you believe. He was out on the course doing a man's job and doing it in a manly way.


I watched Fitzgerald for two days. He gets on brilliantly with Rory. And it's high time people realise it's not JP who is actually taking the shots. But Killarney was all about good news. The course was perfect. It was as if each blade of grass was cut by a nail clippers. There's nowhere that compares to this place for scenery.

And you'd half expect a thrusting hand to rescue a dripping Excalibur out of the silver and blue of Lough Leane, the Lake of Learning.

The usually brilliant Shane Lowry will not be at school for the weekend. He hit the ball into furze bushes that dense and prickly that a hedgehog wouldn't nest there. We searched for his Srixon but it was lost forever.

Dr Brendan Lynch, the Kerry footballer, went into the gorse. Sean Lowry, Shane's uncle, went in beside him. They looked at each other and shook hands. The last time they met was in '72 when Offaly beat Kerry in a replay of the All-Ireland final.

"The biggest baten ye ever got," was how Sean put it.

Meanwhile, Mr Singh was scintillating. The Indian finished at nine-under yesterday. He tossed his ball into the crowd. A big enough adult wearing a pink jumper made for the ball. His Wilson hat was on back to front as if he was walking backwards. Like half the golfers on view, he looked like he was dressed out of a parcel from America.

The relations used to send those gaudy clothes home from the States when we were kids. It was not uncommon back then to see turf cutters going to the bog dressed in tangerine and mauve. Now people are paying huge money for similar outfits only appropriate for wearing in lifeboats in foggy weather.

Courageously and without any thought for his personal safety, the multicoloured one shunted a young lad out of the way. The kid was about 11. The boy won the tussle for Singh's ball even though The Big Man sent him flying.

We followed The Big Man. He gave a harrowing account to his loved ones of how his jaw was hurt by a young lad.

Earlier in the day we visited the tented village. There's great food on offer at a fair price and plenty of bars with a big screen lording it out in the open like a flat version of Henman Hill.


For €2 kids can play all day in a mini theme park. There was this bubble and the kids were sewn into as it rolled around in the water. The lucky things. In our day we used to get sea sick on swinging boats. I have never attended a better organised event. The Open should be held here every year. Killarney could host Judgment Day and still have spare beds for those who failed to make the cut.

JP was busy out on the course. He bosses the voluntary officials around the tees. No one is to stand behind Rory. McIlroy has three in his security team. The boss is a tall, imposing woman who quietens the noisy and asks for "no cameras" while Rory is taking his shot. She is efficient and polite but firm.

A baby cried as Rory swung. For a second we thought a marshal would rush over with a soother. At the 10th a man said, "Rory is at his iPhone." "Oh no," says one of the gallery, "he's going on Twitter," but the champ is just checking his notes.

Mark Murphy from Waterville greeted us on the fifth. He hits a birdie there but needs two more to stay around for the weekend. His pal Denis O'Dwyer, an All-Ireland star in '97, cheers him on. His sister and his dad are there to back him along with about 20 friends. Someone comes up for a chat. "Talk to you later," he says. "I have to tee off here." He drives it 300 yards up the middle. He continues the chat with most of the gallery.

Mark was a DJ and a fisherman's friend back home. He's in Florida now. We hope he makes the cut. One way or the other he'll still have a smile on his face. He knows this golf is only a game.

Further up the course McIlroy is on level-par and the cut is one-under. He's playing for Killarney now. For the B&B's and the hotels, the pubs and the restaurants. With Clarke and Harrington out, the town is depending on him. No pressure.

He shoots three straight birdies. The landladies order more rashers and eggs.

Irish Independent

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