Rory McIlroy Recalls All-Time Crash As Teen Rookie | Golf News and Tour Information
Rory McIlroy was not like most professional golfers in that he was a phenomenon. While the vast majority of players go through years of mini-tours and Mondays before heading to the show, McIlroy had landed the world’s top 50 by the age of 19. And while his rise to the top of the sport was swift, it wasn’t without the rude awakening that is life on tour.
“I was 18, on the road on my own, I loved it because it’s independence,” McIlroy said in the latest episode of Golf Digest’s Local Knowledge podcast.
“I had just missed a few cups in a row and was in Korea, on Jeju Island, to play the Ballantyne Championship. And I still missed the cut. So I was struggling. I had never felt so far from home and so alone. I remember going back to my hotel room, at the end of the bed, crying, and descending into the mini-bar. Not the drinks. It was like Pringles, Coke, Toblerone. I just remember this complete collapse.
There is, of course, quite a reward for those who manage to navigate the emotional roller coaster. Everything went well for McIlroy, after all.
“And then, that’s how things can change quickly in golf,” he says. “So (the collapse) was in April 2008. Fast forward six months, to October 2008, and I’m playing the Singapore Open. And I play with Ernie Els in the third round. And we are like the penultimate group. I remember he hit the driver from the first tee. And I’m like Wow, that’s so cool, I play with Ernie Els. He hit the driver from the first tee and I hit my 3 wood in front of his driver. I was like, Oooh yeah, that’s really cool.
This week’s local knowledge delves deep into the emotional roller coaster that comes with securing, and then attempting to retain, your gaming privileges. Achieving status on the World’s Greatest Tour marks the completion of a lifelong dream: playing in front of a crowded grandstand, for an absurd amount of money, with TV cameras everywhere and Tiger Woods in the group behind. There is a temptation to drink it all, to bask in the afterglow of accomplishment. But we don’t have time to do it, because as soon as we get to the PGA Tour, we immediately have to figure out how to stay on the PGA Tour. It’s not just about playing harder courses against better players; it’s about figuring out what events you can attend, where you’re going to stay, and ideally how you’re going to handle all those cash prizes.
Second-year player Matthew NeSmith, who wrestled tremendously on the Canadian Tour prior to achieving his status, serves as our guide through the transition from development tours to the big tour. Which, for him, came at an inopportune time.
“I had to cancel my bachelorette party for my wedding to get to the PGA Tour orientation,” said NeSmith. “Which was the best way to cancel a bachelor party.”
We spoke to a number of players on the tour besides McIlroy and NeSmith, including Harris English and Matthew Fitzpatrick about when they realized they had “made it” – and the changes on the fly. they had to do this to ensure their time on the Tour would last more than a single season.