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Rory McIlroy embracing leadership role: ‘I’m doing what I think is right’

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“We will fight in France, we will fight on the seas and oceans, we will fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we will defend our island, whatever the cost.” — Winston Churchill, 1940

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BROOKLINE, Massachusetts. Rory McIlroy never asked to be the moral compass of professional golf, but it hit him hard nonetheless.

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He has played the role of a reluctant frontman ever since he had his Winston Churchill moment in 2020, when he told reporters in Mexico City that he had abandoned a previous version of what would become LIV Golf, a Saudi-backed breakaway circuit. methodically poached some of the best players on the PGA Tour in recent weeks.

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“I would like to be on the right side of history,” McIlroy said at the time.

He didn’t plan to lead. It just happened. This is about leadership; you rarely have to choose where and when to answer the call. But in this, McIlroy led both on and off the golf course.

Central Golf

USGA Allows LIV Players, But That Could Change

BY Rex Hoggard

On Wednesday, USGA representatives spoke about the state of golf and the 122nd US Open.

He was there in February when LIV Golf appeared to disband after Phil Mickelson’s crash on the Fire Pit Collective website, telling reporters that the threat was over. “Who is left? Who’s left to go? I mean there is no one,” he said at the time.

It turned out that there were many who wanted to, but few who cared about what they said. It also led to increased leadership from McIlroy, who was asked earlier this week at The Country Club what has changed since February after the first LIV Golf event.

“I think I took a lot of the players’ statements at face value. I must have been wrong.” He shrugged.

It’s been straight up smoke for the likes of Dustin Johnson, who played in London last week, and Bryson DeChambeau, who signed for the rival circuit earlier this week. Both were among the stars who swore allegiance to the PGA Tour in February.

McIlroy’s words are far and wide on this subject. He was joined by Justin Thomas and John Rahm, who are increasingly speaking out against the LIV Golf. McIlroy’s actions extend just as far and wide.

McIlroy’s stick gains momentum in US Open first round

McIlroy's stick gains momentum in US Open first round

When he won the RBC Canadian Open last week, he effortlessly sent a not-so-subtle shadow to Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf. “I will remember this day for a long time, 21st. PGA Tour win, one more than anyone else. It gave me a little extra motivation today and I’m glad I did it,” he said.

Norman ended his career with 20 PGA Tour titles.

It wasn’t about how McIlroy won last week, which was impressive enough, but how he used that performance to send a message.

For all the hassle associated with the LIV Golf challenge, there is some solace in the PGA Tour. They still enjoy the loyalty of the vast majority of the top players, including McIlroy, who seems to be playing the ancient game as well as ever.

After beating the likes of Thomas last week in Canada, he started his day at the Nationals on the hole, became 2 under par and was in full major championship mode until the US Open was played on the par-4 short fifth hole. After making a break to advance the ball from the shaggy ruff, McIlroy went berserk on the sand with his stick.

“You will run into things at the US Open, be it lies or whatever, that you just won’t run into any other week. It’s hard not to get upset,” he shrugged. “I go there and say, just go back to the bunker. The thickest rough on the track is along the edges of the bunkers. I kind of cursed the USGA every time I got to the ball.”

But McIlroy momentarily dropped his grip at the US Open. He fought for parity at No. 5, and even when he showed his only bogey of the day in ninth after a wayward approach that drew a little more anger over a thrown golf club, his 3-under 67 left him tied. for early leadership.

Full results at the US Open

Although he started the week as a betting favorite, McIlroy honestly earned his Grand Slam patience. His last major triumph was eight years ago, and since the PGA Championship last month, where he also started with a sub-par card (65) to only finish in eighth place, proved that there is no connection between predictions, no matter how reasonable they are. neither were, and the final result. product.

And if recent history wasn’t enough to temper his expectations, the longer-term effort to win the US Open a week after winning the regular Tour looms just as massive. It never happened.

But none of those variables mattered on a windy Thursday south of Boston. McIlroy’s name on the leaderboard is no longer the only reason to pay attention to him. The Northern Irishman is much taller than his 5’10” would suggest, and he seems to understand that the burden of leadership comes with high expectations both on and off the pitch.

“I’m just being myself. I live my life. I do what I think is right and try to play the best golf I can,” he said. “I was not asked to be placed here. I didn’t try to be in that position. I’m just being myself.”

He didn’t ask for any of this, but his fight, the Tour fight, got him hooked and he’s proving he’s ready to take on the challenge both on and off the golf course.


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