Hint to Rory: telling the begrudgers where to go wouldn’t go amiss
Don’t pay too much attention to everyone as it can impact on the thing that matters, your golf
McIlroy is 24. Most 24-year-olds focus on getting a job, getting wasted and getting laid, a short “to-do” list most still manage to come up short on, little defeats that can be soothed in private.
McIlroy can’t groan at a bad shot without a pundit proclaiming he doesn’t want it enough, as if wanting “it” is all it takes: hell, if it was, everyone would live to 300 and have Mila Kunis for a FWB. The instinct for any 24-year-old under this kind of pressure must surely be to roar at everyone to pick on someone else for a while.
McIlroy, though, appears unwilling to take such a bluntly straight-forward tack, maybe because he’s too nice, which by all accounts he is, and maybe because he’s still young enough to worry about what people might think of him.
It is true if fame isn’t managed to some extent, it ends up managing, but modern sport is full of examples of over-management. Tiger Woods’ image regime remains rigidly bland, still playing the corporate game, droning platitudes to a public still affecting shock at a rich, powerful guy having taken advantage of easy sex.
But there is another way, a way the public actually appreciate much more. And that’s simply to shoot straight, and not just down the fairway.
History is littered with arrogant, foul-mouthed pillars of disrepute that are still cherished, precisely because they clearly didn’t give a toss what anyone thought of them.
Lester Piggott did time for tax-evasion, got stripped of his OBE, was as famously tight financially as he was amorously extravagant, never hesitated to go behind a colleague’s back, ruthlessly looked after number one and treated the media with disdain. And everyone still thinks he was brilliant.
Starting out in this gig, one of the first jobs I had was to approach the retired-Piggott for a quote at a Mickey-Mouse jockeys match event at Tipperary racecourse. He saw me coming. Before I said anything, he said everything, in just two words, and in that famously nasal tone – “nuck off.”
Even then, it was hard to be offended – “Lester Piggott told ME to eff off” – because it at least had the virtue of honesty. Now, it just looks like class.
So hint to Rory. Don’t pay too much attention to everyone. It doesn’t work. And it can impact on the thing that matters in the first place, your golf.
Because there’s no getting away from it; sometimes there’s no other option but a simple “nuck off”.