All about Rory
Tiger got a taste of what it's like to have a new roommate at Nike while Mike Weir has a reason to be optimistic about a full return to golf
Published on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 12:56PM EST Last updated on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 12:58PM EST
Tiger Woods spent more time talking about Rory McIlroy at his press conference ahead of his first event of the season in Abu Dhabi. Of the roughly 18 questions fired at the former world number one, 14 were about McIlroy or related to the young Irishman.
In contrast, McIlroy faced about 29 questions and only six were Tiger related. Most others focused on his recent signing with Nike with a fascination on just how much money he would be making under the new deal. Others dealt with him getting up in the middle of the night to watch girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki compete at the Australian Open (more on that later).
Perhaps the most intriguing question McIlroy faced was one regarding his Sunday outfit, now that he is a member of the Nike brigade. Red is the colour Tiger has made his own on Sunday’s and there’s always been a belief that Woods is the only Nike staff player allowed to wear red on Sunday’s of a tournament weekend. McIlroy was asked if there were any contractual restrictions against him wearing red...
I couldn't tell you. ...I'm not sure,” said McIlroy. “I've won in red before. I'm not saying that's the color I want to play in on the last day but. ...I'd rather just wear something that goes with green.”
That last comment was in reference to the jacket given to the winner of the Masters, the season’s first major.
A TRUE FAN: It was a first-round match so important for Caroline Wozniacki that it kept her golf star boyfriend, Rory McIlroy, awake at night.
The former No. 1-ranked Wozniacki came back from 3-0 down in the final set to win the last six games of the match against big-hitting Lisicki 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.
McIlroy got up at 3 a.m. to watch from Abu Dhabi, where he’s preparing to play in this weekend’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships. He was coming off a busy day himself after the announcement of his lucrative multi-year contract with Nike.
Of course, the multimillion dollar golf contract became a topic of conversation.
“It wasn’t really a big surprise to me. I kind of knew,” she said to laughter in her post-match press conference. “I felt bad for him because I think he went to bed at midnight their time and woke up at 3 and watched me and then back to sleep for a couple of hours.”
“That’s a true fan,” she added.
"She likes playing three sets," McIlroy said when asked if he got much sleep the other night.
"It's something that I'm used to. Even if I try to get some sleep and she is playing, I won't be able to sleep because all I'll be able to do is thinking about how she's doing and checking the phone and check the score. So I may as well watch it and put myself out of my misery a bit."
HOPE FOR WEIR: Tim Clark’s success at the Sony Open should give Mike Weir some hope that he can come back and compete following his elbow surgery.
Clark has been runner-up twice at Waialae and finished inside the top 25 the other two times he played. But he also suffered two injuries at this tournament that effectively cost him the rest of the year.
The more memorable incident was in 2011. After his runner-up finish, Clark realized he had torn tendons in his elbow that some of his friends thought might end his career. He tried to let the injury heal through rest and rehabilitation until he had no choice but surgery. He played only three more times, and it took until the end of last year before he started feeling healthy again.
And then there was 2001.
“Believe it or not, my rookie season, it was at a pro-am here that I blew my wrist out and missed my whole rookie season,” he said Sunday. He tried to play three more times after that until he withdrew from Pebble Beach and was done for the year.
“I either come second here or blow myself out for a year,” he said.
This year, he left Honolulu in one piece and had reason to hope for a good year after finishing second. Even as he tried to regain some strength and his form last year, he still finished at No. 61 on the money list, including a runner-up finish to Sergio Garcia at the Wyndham Championship. That made him optimistic coming out to Hawaii, and he felt even better when he left.
“I still have to look after my arm,” Clark said. “I still have to do physio and stuff. But when I get out to the course, it’s not on my mind. And it’s been a long road. ... I always felt like I’d get my game back at some point, and last year it showed when I had some good tournaments.
“Today meant a lot,” he said Sunday. “To be able to stay calm and feel like I had a chance to win here, I do feel like I’m back.”
MOMENTUM SWING: When the PGA of America named Tom Watson the next Ryder Cup captain, the thinking was that they had gained a psychological edge on their European counterparts with such a bold move. Much was made of Watson’s golfing accomplishments, which would likely outweigh anything the Euro braintrust could put forth, and how much Watson is revered in Scotland, which might take some of the home-course advantage out of play.
Paul McGinley, who was named the European Ryder Cup captain on Tuesday, doesn’t have the career record to match Watson and, if you want to get picky about it, he’s Irish - not sure how that will go over in Scotland. But there is a feeling that the Euros have regained the psychological advantage they lost when Watson was introduced. And people are pointing to the social media campaign fought by players such as Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter - among others - who made no secret of their desire to see McGinley anointed with the title. Having gotten their wish, the feeling is that the European squad - whose core in 2014 will be made up of McIlroy, Donald and Poulter - will be more of a “team” heading into the event because of the intense feelings they had for McGinley and they certainly won’t want to let him down after having fought so hard for him.
Jason Dufner, who will likely be a key player for the American side, certainly noticed and he would like to the see the players have more input in choosing the Ryder Cup captain in the future. While Dufner said he supported the choice of Watson for 2014, he said many players would like to be more involved in the process since they are “familiar with a lot of the guys that could be up for a nomination.” Dufner also agreed with the observation that Europe is “going to come together” because of the role players had in choosing McGinley.
POLITICS OF GOLF: Not everyone was happy to see the open campaigning for McGinley. European Tour boss George O’Grady says he wasn’t a fan of all the golfing politics that that emerged in the leadup to the announcement.
“It was never meant to be a campaigning business,” O’Grady told Reuters. “That will probably have to be looked at in the cold light of day but the world has changed with all this twittering.
“I think personally one person should be invited to become captain and there should be no losers. There should be a view that this is the right guy at the right time because it can all be a little unseemly.”
“In the end, with all the talk in the social media and the newspapers in the run-up, it was a triumph for democracy,” added O’Grady, who said there was no real vote to select one person over another. .
“Everybody had their viewpoint, it went round the table once and then people had a view.
“No single player dominated at all, one person proposed Paul and the motion was carried.
“The actual physical process was conducted superbly but whether we need all that space in the papers, we’ll think about that calmly,” said O’Grady.
MOTOR MOUTH: Padraig Harrington said his New Year’s resolution was going to be only “yes” or “no” answers. His first answer was 522 words.
“I don’t play golf for the money as I am well past that ... I play for Major titles, not the money.“ - Rory McIlroy at his introductory press conference since joining Nike where he reportedly signed a 10-year, $250-million deal.
Files from the Associated Press were used in this report