Monday, March 25, 2013


Ann Gordon is a pharmacist in Franklin, IN. She is a very good player, a consistent 4-handicapper who played collegiality at Purdue. We were talking a little golf last week when I went to pick up a prescription and Ann was asking why anyone would pay big bucks for a putter. I was kind of shocked that a player of Ann’s ability would ask that question.
I quickly pointed out to her that most players hit a driver no more than 14 times during a normal 18-hole round and, at the same time, will probably take over 30 strokes on the putting greens during that same round. In my opinion, the most important club in player’s golf bag is their putter.
Tiger Woods became the number one ranked player in the world this week by virtue of his victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Tiger has resurrected his golf game in 2013 and his ability to make putts has been a major reason. The win at Bay Hill was his second in two starts since he received a putting lesson from his good friend, Steve Stricker, in the WGC event at Doral.
“I probably got more publicity from that putting lesson I gave Tiger than anything I have ever done in my career,” a smiling Stricker told me last week.
Rory McIlroy had his thoughts a couple of weeks ago when he visited PGA of America headquarters to receive the Player of the Year Award and Vardon Trophy. McIlroy who surrendered the #1 ranking to Tiger this week relayed this story.
“I actually texted Tiger after the tournament and said ‘I am sure Steve is kicking himself for giving you that putting lesson’, recalled McIlroy. Stricker finished runner-up to Woods at Doral.
“I don’t know. I don’t think it was the right thing to do. He is a good enough player as it is,” said Rory. “When guys are good friends you try and help as much as you can. Steve and Tiger obviously have a good relationship. And Steve is probably one of the best putters in the world, if not the best putter in the world.”
So, Rory, would you take a putting lesson from your good friend Graeme McDowell?
“No, but I’ll take one from Stricker,” laughed McIlroy.
Tiger Woods was number one on the PGA TOUR in scoring average heading into the Bay Hill event with 68.48 strokes per round. He was 127th in Driving Accuracy, hitting only 56.5% of his fairways. Woods was ranked a mediocre 59th in Greens Hit in Regulation at 68.1%. Surprisingly, Woods was 103rd in Scrambling, getting it up and down only 59.4% of the time.
Here is the importance of putting. He is ranked 6th in the PGA TOUR’s most critical putting category- Strokes Gained in Putting. Woods was averaging 27.75 putts per round, which ranked him 10th on the TOUR. He ranked 14th in “one putts” with eight per round. He was 7th in “three putt avoidance” with only three in 216 holes played.
Prior to Palmer’s tournament at Bay Hill, Woods had made 120 of 120 putts from inside three feet. From inside eight feet, Woods had converted 80% of the time. From 10-15 feet, Woods made it 33% of the time. He was at 27.3% from 15-20 feet. And remarkably, he was making 20.5% of his putts from 15-25 feet.            
During the four rounds at Bay Hill, Woods had saved pars nine times with putts of over six feet in length. His longest par save came from 21 feet. Any golfer who has watched Woods notch one of his three PGA TOUR victories this winter will testify that he is winning because he is making putts. Woods continues to miss fairways and greens with “un Tiger-like” regularity, but he manages to get the ball in the hole.
So, back to Stricker. What is the secret to the knowledge he departed on Woods. In a GolfDigest article entitled “Steve Stricker Shares His Putting Secrets”, you can learn several things.
“I like to grip the putter fairly tight in my left hand, probably a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, but my right-hand grip is considerably lighter. I grip the putter in the palm of my left hand, not the fingers. It’s resting on my lifeline. This gives me a feeling of unity between the putter’s shaft and my left arm,” says Stricker.
“I actually “waggle” my putter by bouncing it against the turf a little before I make the stroke. It’s hard to go from a static position into a fluid stroke, so that is what I do to make it smoother. Also, my putter sits with the heel slightly off the ground, which results in a straighter back and through motion,” reveals Stricker who also incorporates a slight forward press on his takeaway.
“At address my left wrist is cupped, and my goal is to maintain that angle throughout the stroke. I believe this helps me strike the ball consistently in the same place on the putter’s face as well as put the best roll possible on the ball,” says Stricker.
Stricker doesn’t worry about speed. He just picks his line and concentrates on hitting the ball on that line. His ball position is pretty standard, somewhere between one and two inches off his left foot. His stroke is pretty straight-to-straight. His putter will come slightly inside the target line. He feels the hardest putt is a short, downhill curler. Stricker says all you can do is pick a line and tap it.
One other thing that all great putters like Stricker Woods do is keep the putter low to the ground on the back stroke. This will put more top spin on the down stroke and help the ball roll out, instead of bounce. I see many amateurs picking their putters up on the back stroke which promotes a steep angle of attack and the ball will hop, instead of roll, to the hole.
So, what can you do to be more like Tiger Woods? Given his average of 27.75 putts per round and a scoring average of 68.48 strokes per round, this means that 40% of Tiger’s strokes take place on the putting green.
It will be worth your time to get a putting lesson from a PGA professional. Take the time to get fitted for a putter. The length of the putter along with its loft and lie are critical. Start keeping track of your putting statistics. Make it a point to know how many putts per round you take. Identify your three-putts, which will indicate your ability to lag putt. Your one putt greens will tell you whether or not you are a good chipper. Ann, are you listening?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Arnold Palmer

In April the world of golf belongs to The Masters and the folks at Augusta National Golf Club, but in March it’s about the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Golf Club. This week’s PGA TOUR event in Orlando is really all about “The King” and golf’s annual trek to his doorstep. It’s a moment in time each year when we get a chance to give Palmer the well-deserved attention that he so justly deserves.
Yesterday Palmer delivered his annual state of the game address from Bay Hill. It was no surprise that he spent time talking about the controversial anchoring issue that is threatening the overall stability of the game. Palmer has supported the USGA in its proposed ban of the anchored stroke. At the same time, he has appealed to golf’s major forces- the USGA, the R&A, The PGA TOUR and the PGA of America to come to a consensus on the issue that will avoid two sets of rules, or bifurcation.
“I hope that behind scenes- four of the central golf organizations of my life, all of which do remarkable work growing and promoting the game- can come to some understanding and we continue to have one set of rules for everyone. Like most older players, I want to pass along to my grandkids a game that’s stronger and healthier than the one I inherited. That means a game with the interwoven threads of philanthropy and integrity intact,” said Palmer.
“With the USGA’s and R&A’s decision to recommend a ban on anchored putting and the consequent opposition from the PGA Tour, the PGA of America, golf equipment manufacturers and some rank-and-file-amateurs, the stage has been set for something more ominous,” continued Palmer. “I think we are facing a serious challenge to the rules that govern the global game. My concern is that the fabric that unites us- one set of rules- will be irreparably torn.”
These are meaningful comments from one of golf’s greatest living legends. When Arnie speaks everyone listens.
Roll back the clock to 2001 when Callaway introduced a new ERC driver. The golf club exceeded the USGA limits for how quickly a ball springs off the clubface. The USGA had developed a test for spring like effect in 1998, believing that too much extra distance off the tee would make courses obsolete and corrupt the game. The ERC was one of about two dozen drivers the USGA deemed to be non-conforming.
The USGA drew a line with its standard in 2001. Callaway went storming across it with the ERC and the ERC II. Leading the charge was Palmer, who shocked the industry by endorsing the ERC II as a club the masses could enjoy.
Things got testy. The USGA felt betrayed by Palmer, the honorary chairman of its Members Program since 1975. It even removed his signature from letters sent out to recruit new members. Palmer was labeled a traitor by many golf purists because he supported a non-conforming club. Arnie took the stance that the ERC should not be used in formal competition, but he saw no harm in using it for fun.
At the time, David Fay was the Executive Director of the USGA and he said, “There’s one game and there’s one set of rules. We’re not inclined to treat the Rules of Golf as if it were some buffet line where you pick and choose.”
A few months ago, Fay who is now retired from the USGA said that it might be time for bifurcation of the rules. This was all set up by his concern over how banning the anchored putter would affect the recreational amateur. And now we have Palmer, who once was supporting bifurcation, saying that we should not go down that road. This is an unbelievable reversal of fortunes over a 12 year timeframe.
In the March 22 edition of GolfWeek, Jeff Rude reported that combined, the PGA Tour Policy Board and its Players Advisory Council voted 22-2 against the ban. The PGA of America conducted a straw poll of its of 235 members representing its 41 Sections last week at the PGA Conference of leaders and the PGA was unanimous in support of its opposition to the USGA’s ban on anchoring.
Informed of that information, Mike Davis current USGA Executive Director said all USGA state and regional associations support the proposal.
Mike David with the Indiana Golf Association had this perspective, “Indiana has not surveyed our (amateur) board to whether or not they will support the ban. . . . we have definitely not taken any formal position.”
I maintain that the USGA and R&A have underestimated the ramifications a rule change on anchoring would have. In my opinion, the next best thing to no ban would be the creation of a 12th condition of competition in USGA rules that deals with anchoring. Presently, the four major championships are not uniform to applying four conditions of competition (one-ball rule, practice putting at hole last played, embedded ball rule, removal of stones in bunkers).
This way every stakeholder walks away with what they want and everybody plays by the same set of rules. Davis, though, disagrees with the idea saying the USGA doesn’t believe in such conditions for “real fundamental rules.”
Next Wednesday, I fly to Orlando to meet with Arnold Palmer. Pete Bevacqua, PGA CEO, and I requested the meeting. Our intent is not to change Palmer’s mind on anchoring, but more to explain why the PGA of America is so opposed to the proposed ban.
At 83 years old, Palmer is the chief of this golf tribe and his perspective matters. But, for a guy who once was adamant in his support of a non-conforming driver because it posed no harm, his current views on the anchoring topic are interesting.
This week, Tom Watson told me that he has reversed his original support of the USGA ban. “I have talked to many amateur players who say they will quit or play less if the ban goes through. I don’t see how that is good for the game. The PGA TOUR is trying to protect its players’ ability to earn a living. My views have definitely changed.”
As Rude said in GolfWeek, “Golf’s great divide widens.”  

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 14, 2013

One Shot at a Time: March 14, 2013
PGA of America leaders from all over the United States convened on Tuesday of this week at Port St. Lucie, FL for the annual PGA Conference of Leaders. All 41 PGA Sections were represented. The group of 235 people also included Past PGA Presidents, current Board of Directors and National Officers with many PGA Staff members also in attendance. The conference was also streamed live on for all 27,000 of our men and women members to see.
It was the first official gathering of the PGA of America since our Annual Meeting at Baltimore in early November. As President, I was joined by my fellow Officers, Derek Sprague, Vice President and Paul Levy, Secretary along with Pete Bevacqua, CEO; Darrell Crall, COO and Kerry Haigh, CCO in an update of our “First 100 Days” as the new leadership team. I presented a review of the work done by our Committees and the direction set by the Board in February. The Education and Membership Committees gave presentations which were pertinent to issues facing all members. There was also an active discussion on Section Engagement from the Executive Directors’ Committee.
At the end of the day, we conducted an Open Forum and it was no surprise that the anchoring topic dominated the discussion. Over 80 minutes of the scheduled 90-minute session was devoted to hearing thoughts from PGA members from all over the U.S. on this controversial topic. The meeting on Tuesday marked the first time that the PGA of America’s delegation had convened since the proposed ban on anchoring (Rule 14-1b) had been introduced by the USGA and R&A on November 28, 2012.
My suspicions were confirmed at Tuesday’s Open Forum. PGA members are extremely opposed to the ban on anchoring and the level of discontent is far greater than the 63% which opposed the ban last Thanksgiving when a survey was done by the PGA.  A straw poll was conducted on Tuesday and there was not one single hand that went in the air to support the proposed ban of the long putter by the USGA and R&A from the over 200 in attendance.
During the Open Forum, I gave a brief presentation to our PGA members on Local Rules and Conditions of Competition as defined by the Rules of Golf. The reason for doing this was to insure that our Section leaders were clear on their understanding that if the proposed ban is implemented, PGA professionals and their facilities will not have the ability to impose a local rule or a condition of competition allowing anchoring without it being a direct violation of the Rules of Golf.  This would be bifurcation of the Rules in its purest sense.
The USGA and R&A do have the ability to create a new condition of competition pertaining to anchoring within the Rules of Golf. This would allow competitions and facilities to have the option to adopt the condition of competition. By doing this, bifurcation in terms of anchoring would not be an issue allowing everyone to play by one set of Rules. If this would happen, there is a distinct possibility that PGA TOUR events and even the major championships would treat anchoring differently, but that is not unprecedented.
Currently, there are four Conditions of Competition in the Rules of Golf that are adopted differently by the four major championships. In the case of the One Ball Rule, the PGA Championship does not accept it while the other three majors do. On Practice Putting at the Hole Last Played, the U.S. Open allows it while the other three do not. The Embedded Ball Rule through the Green is not in effect for at the British Open and it is in the other three. Finally, the British Open allows players to move Stones in Bunkers while the other three majors do not.   
PGA professionals spoke clearly and concisely during the Open Forum echoing their concerns on how the proposed ban will affect their ability to administer the game at the local level. There was discussion about the politics and inconsistency that will surface around the country if PGA professionals are mandated by their boards, men’s and women’s associations, or players to allow anchoring for the enjoyment of recreational amateurs. Bifurcation seems destined if Rule 14-1b is implemented.
However, there has been widespread speculation that if the proposed anchoring ban is implemented by the USGA and R&A that the PGA TOUR might adopt in its own set of rules which will allow anchoring. The question was then posed to PGA members in the Open Forum, which rules would you follow? Those adopted by the USGA, banning anchoring, or a set of PGA Rules, which might permit it? Less than a dozen in attendance indicated support of USGA Rules and well over 200 indicated support of what could be PGA Rules. 
This could be ground breaking territory for the game of golf, particularly in this country. Since 1894, the USGA has governed the game here. During the Open Forum the question was asked if the USGA and R&A would ever adopt different stances on the proposed rule change. It’s highly doubtful this would happen.
The PGA of Canada recently surveyed its membership and approximately 33% responded with nearly 65% opposing the proposed ban on anchoring. The PGA of Canada has sent a letter to the R&A and the USGA expressing the opinions of its members. I have also had conversations with Shizuo Mori, the Chairman of the PGA of Japan. He indicates that while there is nothing official yet, he agrees more with the position of the PGA of America and the PGA TOUR. Japan and Canada both are governed by the R&A.
A week ago, the European Tour issued a statement in support of the proposed ban. Some would say that this was a reversal of positions based on earlier comments by the European Tour that “there was no compelling reason to change the Rule at this time.” The Sunshine Tour, located in South Africa, also supports the ban.
The line in the sand seems to be the Atlantic Ocean. Golf bodies west of the Atlantic are agitated by the proposed anchoring ban. Those East of the Atlantic seem more inclined to follow the authority of the rules makers. As Michael Bamberger from Sport Illustrated pointed out to me, Americans always seem to be more inclined to challenge authority than their European counterparts. History has proven that.
The PGA TOUR recently acquired the Darrell Survey Data from 2009 to present as it relates to usage numbers of mid-length and long putters at all official PGA TOUR events. In assessing this date, the TOUR has cross-referenced the number of players using these clubs per event (of whom almost all are presumably anchoring) with field size, identifying a percentage of use at each event.
From 2009 through much of 2011 between 5-10% of the fields anchored. From late 2011 to early 2012, there was a significant spike in usage where the TOUR saw 15-25% of the field using these clubs. However, following the end of the West Coast PGA TOUR events in the early spring of 2012, usage begins to drop and we see a continuing downward trend that appears to be approaching the previous levels of 2009-2011.
Certainly another issue facing PGA members is at the recreational level. We have serious concerns on how the ban on anchoring could affect the enjoyment of the game by our amateur customers. Over the past few months, I have received dozens of letters from concerned amateurs who look to the PGA of America to stand up and protect their interests. These people are discouraged and frustrated that an anchoring ban will be imposed after they adopted a previously legal method of putting. Most indicate they will play less golf or quit. The game cannot afford this.
One member actually went to the microphone and asked that in the event there were two sets of Rules in the U.S. would the PGA of America ever consider getting into the business of handicaps? That topic was tabled pending the outcome of the anchoring issue.
When Tuesday’s Open Forum was concluded, it was apparent to me as President of the largest working sports organization in the world that our membership is united on this issue concerning the ban on the anchored stroke. We feel the USGA and R&A have underestimated the impact and ramifications that Rule 14-1b will have on the overall state of the game. It has become one of the most divisive issues that modern day golf has seen. All of these controversial issues will dissipate if the proposed ban is dropped.  
The PGA of America feels that there is no logical reason to proceed with Rule 14-1b. On behalf of the 27,000 men and women of the PGA of America and the amateurs that we represent, we have made our opinions public to golf’s governing bodies. Tuesday’s Conference of Leaders was an absolute confirmation that PGA members are aligned in solidarity on this issue.    

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March 13, 2013

Rory McIlroy showed up at PGA Headquarters on Monday afternoon around 3:30 p.m. He was a bit early and spent the first few minutes of his visit posing with the pair of trophies that he would be presented later on, the PGA of America Player of the Year Award and the Vardon Troph. Both were fruits of his outstanding 2012 season which has earned him the number one spot in the World Golf Rankings.
The Player of the Year award is based on stroke average, money earned and tournaments won. The Vardon Trophy, named after the famous English golfer Harry Vardon, is given to the player with the low stroke average on the PGA Tour. Just a handful of professionals have won both awards in the same year. McIlroy joined the likes of Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. No doubt, at age 23, Rory is the youngest to receive both awards in the same year.
The young Irishman showed up at PGA HQ in a pair of shorts, Nike tennis shoes and a pink and white striped shirt. He was wearing a white cap and had just finished playing in an outing at PGA National which was a fundraiser hosted by Ernie Els for Autism. It was kind of ironic because just ten days earlier McIlroy had made big news when he walked off the same course after the 8th hole in the second round of the Honda Classic, with Els as one of his playing partners      
But, this was a different day and McIlroy was in better spirits after he rallied to finish in the top ten at Doral last week in the World Golf Championship. His final round 65 vaulted him way up the leaderboard and he was openly feeling good about his last 26 holes when he was eleven under par.
I am not going to profess to be a Rory McIlroy apologist because there is nothing to apologize for when it comes to this kid. Sure, at 23 years old he has done and said a few minor things that he would like a mulligan for. But, he is openly honest and wears his emotions on his sleeve. He is respectful and knows his responsibility to the game.
He was honored Monday at PGA Headquarters in front of PGA Officers and a couple hundred staff members. He took two hours out of his busy schedule and participated in a photo shoot and fireside chat. I escorted him to his seat on the stage with the music from the Manchester United rugby team blaring over the loud speaker. Irish flags were waving and large cut outs of McIlroy and his curly locks were being flashed by the crowd. It was a festive occasion.
Through it all, McIlroy was a great sport as the PGA acknowledged his accomplishments and at the same time, poked some fun in his direction. I presented him with an alarm clock which was symbolic of his last minute arrival to the First Tee on Sunday at the Ryder Cup in his match against Keegan Bradley.
“Look, Rory,” I said. “The last thing I want as PGA President is for my defending champion to be late to the tee at Oak Hill this summer. So, here is an alarm clock to make sure you wake up in time.”
He blushed, smiled and looked down at the ground. A typical innocent patented McIlroy reaction. One that was similar when he was told he had a spot on his shirt during the photo shoot. This was a result of a quick lunch at Rocco’s Tacos on his way to the ceremony. Later on his angst on the soiled shirt become more apparent when it became clear he was headed down to Miami to watch his girlfriend, Carolyn Wozniacki the Danish tennis star, compete in a match. Hey, you can’t show up for that with taco stains on your shirt.
When asked about the putting lesson that Steve Stricker gave Tiger Woods prior to the WGC event last week, Rory was candid.
“Yeah, I had a little bit of a problem with that,” quipped McIlroy. “It’s not like Tiger needs any help with his game right now. When he putts like he did last week nobody can beat him. But, I know he and Stricker are good friends, so I guess he was just trying to help him out.”
So, does that mean McIlroy would consider taking a putting lesson from his Irish buddy Graeme McDowell, former U.S. Open champ?
“No,” a hesitating McIlroy answered with a sheepish grin. “I would never take a putting lesson from Graeme. But, I would take one from Stricker.”
Quick on his feet and ever present with his surroundings, how can you not love the kid?
When asked who the most famous person was in his hometown of Hollywood, Ireland, Rory said it was his dad, Gerry. McIlroy revealed that there was no stature erected in Hollywood to honor him. However; a local bakery sells cupcakes with his face on them.
He talked about the sacrifices that his parents had made enabling him to play golf.
“They both worked all of the time. They worked different shifts and most days they would only see each other for an hour. I think it was the secret to their marriage,” laughed Rory.
McIlroy loves living in Jupiter, FL just outside the gates to The Bear’s Club where he can play and practice.
“It’s nice to have a place to call home between tournaments. I love living in the States,” he said.
The most famous person McIlroy has ever met through golf with? His list is solid and includes Presidents and numerous leaders of foreign countries.
“I would say it was Rudy Guiliani. I got a chance to play golf with him,” revealed McIlroy. “To think, I am playing golf with the Mayor of New York City when 9/11 happened. That was something I will never forget and that was very special to me.”
McIlroy is 5’9’ tall and weighs 160 pounds. He is wiry and it’s not a surprise that he likes boxing. His forearms and biceps are muscular. His waist is tiny, but you get the sense you wouldn’t want to step into the ring with him because at some point that feisty Irish heart will drive the competition.  
The PGA TOUR is lucky to have him as a regular. The PGA of America is blessed to call him their defending champion. The world of golf can look forward to many great decades of the Rory McIlroy era.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March 3, 2013

Let me start by saying that I have two daughters and if both were in the dating scene, I would totally approve of Rory McIlroy as a potential suitor. The young Irishman turns 24 years old in May and it would appear that he has life in his cross hairs as he sits atop the Number One spot in the World Golf Rankings.
SportsPro has rated McIlroy as the second most marketable athlete in the world while the Golf Club Managers’ Association ranked him as the second most powerful person in British golf. Unfortunately, for any single woman out there who yearns for McIlroy, he has been dating Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki since 2011.
Last year at the age of 23, McIlroy already had two record setting major championships under his belt. He won the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA Championship by the largest margins of victory in the history of these two majors. A year ago he was the leading money winner on the PGA TOUR with over $8 million in earnings. In addition, McIlroy won over $5 million pounds on the European Tour. Rory has set a pretty high bar for kids his age.
In 2012, McIlroy was the PGA TOUR Player of the Year, the Byron Nelson Award winner, the European Tour Order of Merit winner and he was named the European Tour Golfer of the Year. On January 13, McIlroy reaped the harvest of his recent efforts by signing a 5-year deal with NIKE for an estimated $200 million. 
On March 11, as PGA President, it will be my privilege to present McIlroy with the Vardon Trophy which he earned by having the low stroke average on TOUR in 2012. Later, on June 3, we will play together at the PGA Championship Media Day at Oak Hill CC in Rochester, NY. As defending PGA champion, McIlroy will host our Champions Dinner during Championship week in August.
Golf can be a fickle game and no one, not even McIlroy, is exempt from the cruel treatment that the sport can dish up. So far this season, McIlroy has played in three events. He missed the cut in two and got beat in the first round of the Accenture Match Play in Tuscon. Things came to a screeching halt for him last Friday at the Honda Classic where he walked off the 8th hole when he was seven over par.
“I’m outta here,” he proclaimed to Ernie Els and Mark Wilson, his two playing partners.
McIlroy was asked three times by reporters if a physical problem had forced his early exit. Each time he responded, “No, I’m not in a good place mentally.”
Then the story changed to a sore wisdom tooth, before a picture was released of him munching a sandwich moments before he headed for the parking lot. The night before, McIlroy had tweeted pictures from a birthday dinner for his Mum with the rest of his family.
Tiger Woods offered this advice, “He’s got to be more…. just got to think about it a little bit more before you say something or do something.”
McIlroy’s great friend and fellow Irish major champion Graeme McDowell summed it up best. “When you start trying to prove things to other people and you stop playing for yourself it is a very dangerous place to be. He is playing more to prove things to the media, playing to the naysayers and people who say he shouldn’t have done what he has done.
“To me it is not equipment, it’s all technique and a little bit of belief. To me he is not swinging the club the way he was late summer last year,” added McDowell. “But he will be okay. Once he starts believing in himself again he will be back.”
NIKE officials have to be a bit nervous. McIlroy has already switched from their putter back to a Titleist Scotty Cameron model after just one competitive round in January. Over the years, many professional Tour players have taken the bucks and switched clubs. It hasn’t always worked out so well. Who knows what demons have settled between Rory’s ears- if any?
In fairness to McIlroy, his illustrious career has not been filled with much controversy. He described the Ryder Cup as “an exhibition” in May 2009. The following year, McIlroy said he regretted his comments and said that the Ryder Cup is “definitely not an exhibition.” Later in 2010, he answered a media question regarding Tiger Woods potential of being a captain’s pick in the Ryder Cup by saying any member of the European Team would “fancy his chances against him.”
In 2011, following a poor showing in the Open Championship he told the media that he was “not a fan of golf tournaments that are predicted so much by weather” and added he would “rather play when it’s 80 degrees and sunny and not much wind.” These comments drew the ire of the British press.
This is all of the controversy you can dig up on the Irish kid with the black hair resembling an inverted bird’s nest, hidden by his swoosh hat each week. Seriously, that’s it?
McIlroy is a Roman Catholic. Despite growing up in a small Irish village in County Down, he carries a British passport. His great uncle was killed by the Ulster Volunteer Force in a sectarian attack at his east Belfast home in 1972. McIlroy’s main sporting passion outside of golf is for the Ulster Rugby Team. He often interrupts his bust golfing schedule to attend matches at Belfast. He is frequently accompanied at Tour events by his father, Gerry.
Despite his recent misfortunes, McIlroy still retains his Number One World Golf Ranking. He is scheduled to play in only two events before The Masters and is woefully short of competition as he is form. He has finished just 62 stroke play holes in more than three months. 
He recently purchased a $10 million home near The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, FL. That is where he will try to resurrect his golf game in the next few weeks before heading to Augusta. My guess is that he will be ready when he makes the quest north in search for a Green Jacket.
McIlroy’s biggest problem? He is so well liked, so revered that people want to see him succeed. Golf needs him to be the sport’s next icon. It’s a lot of pressure on a 23-year old. This Irish kid is 5’9 and 160 pounds. There is not a bad bone in his diminutive body. He possesses the heart of a lion. He has proven that he knows where the jugular is and he is not afraid to put his spikes on it. Rory will roar again.