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Rory Feels Sorry for Tiger Woods

By: Golfshake Editor | Mon 27 Feb 2017

Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements

RORY McILROY admits that he feels sorry for Tiger Woods, the golfer he idolised while growing up in Northern Ireland.

Having suffered a couple of injuries of his own, the four-time major champion is well placed to reflect on the plight of Woods. It is now almost nine years since the American won the last of his 14 majors and even though he is only 41 years old, the prospect of him ever being able to add to that total seems increasingly remote.

His latest comeback from back injury ended after just one poor round of 77 at the Dubai Desert Classic. It was a tournament at which McIlroy should have been playing, but he had already withdrawn after suffering a rib injury while testing new drivers.

McIlroy has admitted in a wide-ranging interview with Ewan Murray of The Guardian, that when he was growing up, he wanted to emulate Woods. “I never thought I would say this but I felt sorry for him,” McIlroy added. “I just felt bad for the guy that his body won’t allow him to do what he wants to do. I can’t imagine anything so debilitating where you can’t even stand up to do a press conference.

“Tiger was a child star, he was used to being out there winning golf tournaments since he was 10. I know that’s not what he values his life around but it must be hard to still want to do that but have it taken away because you can’t physically get to where you want to be. Obviously there is a physical battle there but there has to be a mental struggle as well.

“I’m glad that he has other things in his life. He has his kids and is so committed to them. If he didn’t have that it would be so hard. He is still young, he has another half of his life to live. Golf is minuscule compared to watching your kids grow up. That’s where my priority would be now.”

That last comment would seem to confirm that McIlroy is, as has been widely speculated upon, about to marry his fiancee, Erica Stoll, a former employee of the PGA of America.

McIlroy also revealed that he had played 18 holes with Donald Trump at Trump International in Florida. The president enjoys playing with high-profile golfers, having also recently shared a round with Woods. According to reports, McIlroy received a phone call asking him if he would like to join Trump for a round of golf and had no hesitation in accepting the invitation.

His decision has divided opinion, but McIlroy seems to have few regrets about his decision. He refused to reveal what he felt about Trump's political views but expressed intrigue in the billionaire businessman's rise to power.

“I really got into it once Trump ran because I knew him a little bit but at the same time I was intrigued how a successful businessman could transition into running for the highest office in the land,” McIlroy said. “It is a totally different process from the UK. He obviously came at it from a completely different angle.

“I’ve said it to the man himself; on a Tuesday night at a tournament, if there was a live [political] debate, I would get room service, stick on CNN and just watch. It was pure entertainment, even if you didn’t understand politics it was this complete phenomenon. Something like this probably won’t happen again in our lifetime. I’m very attuned to it, I watch a lot of news. You can’t avoid it. I had no interest in politics until a couple of years ago; now I can’t seem to get away from it.

“I feel like I’ve stayed unpolitical in terms of Northern Ireland and all that goes on there but because I’m not an American I don’t feel a real part of it; I’m just interested by the phenomenon of it all. I don’t really care about the policies. The whole circus, this big show is intriguing to watch.”

McIlroy may well claim to be an apolitical animal, and when he declined to take part in the golf tournament at the Olympic Games last summer, he cited fears surrounding the zika virus as his reason for not playing. He has since admitted that he found it extremely difficult making a decision about whether he should represent Ireland or Great Britain, and that would seem to indicate that he is actually very politically aware.

At a time when he is recovering from injury, agreeing to play 18 holes of golf with the American president may seem a rather odd decision but what you do if you got the call? 

Trump certainly polarises opinion. Most of us will swear that we heard the R&A announcing that The Open would not return to Turnberry while he still owned it. But they now tell us that it remains in contention to hold golf's oldest major after 2021.

R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers said: “I said last year we were focused on Turnberry as a golf course and there has been nothing that has happened in the last year to change that. Turnberry remains absolutely as one of our nine golf courses. 2020 and 2021 did not involve Turnberry and we’ll not be thinking about 2022 for at least another year.

“I think it’s very important that we’re clear about what our business is, which is making sure that the Open Championship is one of the world’s greatest sporting events, and staying out of politics. We are clearly now in uncharted territory. Sitting presidents have attended US Opens. We have not had a sitting President of the United States at an Open Championship

“We’re all learning as we go through this. But I think it’s important for us that we understand where the game is and make sure we keep to that, without ignoring all the other factors that go around it.”

Slumbers said he believed President Trump had been “good for golf” in terms of the renovation of a number of his courses and that he would also accept an invite to play golf with him. “With all senior people in the world, I think it’s polite and respectful to listen to them and work with them,” he added. “It’s very important that we work with the President if Turnberry did come back on. That would just be foolhardy not to.”

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Tags: tiger woods rory mcilroy PGA Tour Donald Trump

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