The comments I'm talking about were the remarks about golfers needing to be more athletic and setting a better example by going to the gym, and the comment about retiring at forty. Neither comment, in my mind, reflected very well on this young Northern Irish kid known for his humility. Both comments sounded a wee bit arrogant to me, and while my opinion doesn't amount to a hill of beans, the golfing gods were probably listening and, if I understand the golfing gods, I suspect they weren't very impressed.
One of the things that I love about golf is that, in golf, nice guys don't finish last. Most champions are grounded, hard working, humble people. It reminds me of the time I watched David Duvall being interviewed after shooting his incredible final round 59. He was waiting to see whether a playoff was going to be required for the win and, when asked whether he would go to the range while he waited, David made a tongue in cheek comment about going to the range because he had a few things to work on. At the time, he was at the pinnacle of the golf world. When he made that comment, I shuddered and said to my wife, "I sure hope the golfing gods weren't listening."
Duvall's subsequent descent into golfing oblivion is well documented. I don't know whether anyone ever spoke to David about that comment, or whether he ever regretted it, but it wasn't long thereafter that his game deserted him. It may just be a coincidence, but I don't think so.
Rory's idol has always been Tiger. He has tried to follow in Tiger's footsteps, even securing the huge Nike contract and becoming fascinated with the gym. Now, he's even engaging in displays of temper on the course as well. I just hope he isn't going to make some of the same mistakes Tiger has made, mistakes that don't need to be talked about, but mistakes all the same.
Golfers don't have to be finely tuned athletes, like sprinters or boxers, or even tennis players. They need skill, perseverance, dedication and commitment. They also benefit from being humble. Golf seems a game designed for humble people, or designed to make people humble. Rory's recent comment about golfers needing to become gym rats likely didn't sit very well with his colleagues, or the golfing gods. I suspect his comment about retiring by forty didn't impress a lot of people either. It certainly didn't impress me, and I just hope, for Rory's sake, it didn't offend the golfing gods.
The game has made Rory rich beyond most people's wildest dreams, and is making him a household name. Rory owes the game something. Talking about wanting to walk away by forty doesn't smack of a guy who realizes just how much he owes the game and the fans. I could be wrong, but it could certainly leave that impression. Rory needs to realize just how lucky he is, and hopefully he does. He also needs to understand that he could lose his game any time. It's happened to enough other great players. He needs to focus on the next round, rather than what he might want to do by forty. In golf, there are no guarantees, so it is best to always remember that, and to remember the golfing gods are listening.
I just hope Rory isn't getting just a bit too big for his britches. He should be careful who, and what sort of behaviour and attitude he chooses to emulate. The game will always be bigger than Rory, or Tiger, and glory can be fleeting. Careful, Rory, the golfing gods are always listening and watching. Don't ever mess with the golfing gods.