This week marks the 10th anniversary of Rory McIlroy turning pro as a wee 18-year-old from Northern Ireland. Since turning professional in 2007 McIlroy has created quite a resume for himself…so much so that it feels like he’s been on the PGA Tour for longer than 10 years.
He’s captured 22 professional victories including four majors: the 2011 U.S. Open, 2012 and 2014 PGA Championships, and the 2014 Open Championship. He also had an incredible playoff run last season where he won the FedEx Cup and the $10 million bonus.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) September 18, 2017
Even though McIlroy seems very reserved, he is not afraid to tell you what he really thinks about certain topics. So here is a list of McIlroy’s most memorable quotes while playing as a professional:
“From about the age of five, I told anyone who would listen that I was going to be the greatest golfer in the world.”
McIlroy dropped out of school when he was 16 years old to pursue his dream of becoming a professional golfer. Now that may seem like a high-risk-low-reward situation to most people, but McIlroy and his parents knew he had a gift. And it’s not like we have seen this before. In baseball, Bryce Harper left high school at age 16 to go to junior college that way he could be drafted a year sooner.
“I’m not a fan of golf tournaments that the outcome is predicted so much by the weather…I mean my game is suited for basically every golf course and most conditions, but these conditions, I just don’t enjoy playing in, really. That’s the bottom line. I’d rather play when it’s 80 degrees and sunny and not much wind.”
This was a bit of an odd quote from McIlroy seeing as he played over in Ireland where the weather isn’t always favorable for golf – even in the summer. In fact, you see a young Rory portrayed in a Nike commercial hitting balls at a driving range in the freezing rain.
Regardless, this is probably something he would have liked to have taken back. No one wants to play in the rain but if you’re paid to do then you go do it.
“How can I intimidate Tiger Woods? I mean, the guy’s got 75 or whatever PGA Tour wins, 14 majors. He’s been the biggest thing ever in our sport. How could some little 23-year-old from Northern Ireland with a few wins come up and intimidate him.”
McIlroy was right, Woods probably wasn’t intimidated by him when he first came up. But that really is irrelevant now because the two serve together as business partners – and maybe friends – when they represent Nike Golf.
“You know I need that cockiness, the self-belief, arrogance, swagger, whatever you want to call it, I need that on the golf course to bring the best out of myself. So you know once I leave the golf course, you know that all gets left there.”
If there is one thing about Woods’ game that McIlroy did adapt, is that swagger they both have when they are hitting every shot pure. Like Woods, McIlroy doesn’t talk to his ball or get vocal on the course. He’s more collected and laser-focused on his shot.
“I just let frustration get the better of me. It was the heat of the moment, and if it had been any other club, I probably wouldn’t have, but I didn’t need a 3-iron for the rest of the round, so I thought why not.”
McIlroy may not talk to his ball, but he didn’t need to when he threw his three-iron into the water at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in 2015.
Luckily a pre-presidential candidate was able to fish it out of the water and return it to him before the weekend was over. (pretty easy to do when the candidate owns the course)
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 8, 2015
“It was the most important day of my career, bar none.”
This was what Rory said after shooting a final round 80 at the 2011 Master’s championship. He was in contention after shooting 12-under the first three days – including a 7-under 65 on Thursday to start the tournament. All he needed to do on Sunday was shoot a three-under because the winner Charl Schwartzel won The Masters with a 72-hole score of 14-under.
“I couldn’t ask for much more, and I’m just so happy to be holding this trophy. I know how good Tiger was in 2000 to win by 15 in Pebble. I was trying to go out there and emulate him in some way. I played great for four days, and I couldn’t be happier.”
A little over a month after his collapse at the 2011 Masters, McIlroy dominated that year’s U.S. Open with a record-setting 16-under par. The 22-year-old showed extreme poise after not only suffering that humiliating final round at The Masters but then missed the cut in a tournament the week after.
This major really set the pace for McIlroy and will probably be one of the more defining moments in his career.
“I am, ask anyone who knows me, a complete prick in the week leading up to Augusta. But they understand and know that. It’s a stressful situation. I’ve been in position before, and I haven’t got the job done when I needed to, and I don’t think that’s anything to do with my game. I think that’s more me mentally, and I’m trying to deal with the pressure of it and the thrill of the achievement if it were to happen. I think that’s the thing that’s really holding me back.”
McIlroy has every leg of the career Grand Slam completed besides The Masters, and a green jacket would separate him into a category among golf’s elite class. The pressure is definitely mounting on McIlroy to win that final leg. Perhaps that 2011 collapse may still linger in the back of his mind.
“I’ve always said the players don’t build up rivalries themselves, people from the outside build up the rivalries. I just want to play good golf. I want to try and keep winning golf tournaments.”
It seem’s that golf is starting to get past the stage of supposed ‘rivialries’ between players. These days players are more inclined to root for each other or be more worried about playing against the course. McIlroy seems to fall into the latter category.
He’s not part of the younger crews of Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, and Rickie Fowler – even though they did invite him to join them on their annual Spring Break trip.
— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) April 22, 2016
“[The Ryder Cup] is not a huge goal of mine. It’s an exhibition at the end of the day…in the big scheme of things it’s not that important an event for me. Obviously, I’ll try my best for the team – but I’m not going to go running around fist-pumping.”
McIlroy was quoted saying this back in 2009, but it would appear that his views have changed since he was pretty into that round against Patrick Reed in the 2016 Ryder Cup (insert hermit the frog ‘that’s none of my business’ meme here).
Golf just wouldn’t be the same without this power-house.