Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson and tennis star Andy Murray are just a handful of the high-profile athletes who have come out and defended Rory McIlroy.
“I think Rory has to keep doing what he’s been doing all his life,” Rose said. “I know him pretty well and I think he’s a guy who likes to live his life.
“He likes to have fun. He likes to get his mind away from golf. I think he’s the kind of guy that, if he practiced 24/7 and got too much in his own head, it’s not going to help him.
“People get hurt taking a shower and doing normal day-to-day things. You can’t stop living your life. It’s unfortunate that it happened. Hopefully he’ll heal soon and be back at it. If he can’t play next week, certainly by the PGA I would hope [where McIlroy is also defending champion],” said Mickelson.
“It’s a huge shame,” Murray said. “But accidents happen and hopefully he’ll be back soon.”
McIlroy’s left ankle injury must be worse than he originally thought. When Rory announced the injury on Monday, he didn’t completely shut the door on competing at St. Andrews. To announce just two days later, as McIlroy did on Wednesday that he won’t be ready, is telling.
There’s no doubt that when McIlroy does return, he’s going to be bombarded with questions about the injury. Some will even go so far as to call him reckless, and give the predicable “you shouldn’t play any other sport but golf” routine. Twitter certainly hasn’t been kind, but that really comes as no big surprise.
But McIlroy, 26, is a sportsman. Whether it’s a kickabout with his pal Wayne Rooney of Manchester United or playing rugby with Brian O’Driscoll, the four-time major winner should be, as many have already come out and said, be able to continue to live his life after he’s recovered.
There’s no denying that it’s a crying shame that McIlroy is hurt and could be out of commission for a while. There’s not a single golf fan in the world that wasn’t pumped up about seeing McIlroy, the defending British Open champion, defend against Spieth, who’s on his own quest for the Grand Slam.
When he does recover from his injury, will McIlroy continue to live his life the way he wants, or will he tone it down? It’s too soon to speculate, but here’s what Rose and Mickelson said about that:
“It’s a tough question, middle of the season, before a major championship….hindsight is a wonderful thing. He probably wouldn’t do it again and it’s probably the last time he does play football in the middle of season. It’s unfortunate for him obviously,” said Rose.
“I said then, and I feel the same way now, you can’t live your life in fear. You have to enjoy the moment. I didn’t feel like anything [McIlroy] was doing was unnecessary risk. He was just playing around and accidents happen.
McIlroy’s injury is not career threatening, as some have alluded to. He’s a world class athlete, and there should be little doubt he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure he recovers and is back 100 percent. Whether that’s this year or next remains to be seen. If McIlroy wants to continue to play soccer and have fun away from golf, what gives anyone the right to tell him no?