Triple Major champion Rory McIlroy has revealed that as a youngster he almost quit the game, but put it down to being a ‘grumpy teenager.’
It was 2006 and the Holywood man was being driven home by his father after beating Louth’s Simon Ward in a play-off to win the Mullingar Scratch Cup.
McIlroy was only 17 then and just over a year away from turning professional. But on his first day back to competitive golf since winning the British Open at Royal Liverpool he was asked if he ever experienced a ‘crisis of faith’ in his career that could have forced him to quit the game.
“Yeah, I was ready to give it up and I remember the drive home with my dad after I had just won the Mullingar Scratch Cup,” he said.
“It was about a three-hour drive and I remember saying that I’ve just won but I don’t feel happy.
“I got back home and didn’t play golf for about three days and just didn’t practice. I must have been an impulsive teenager going through some hormonal issues,” he smiled.
“But that was like the only time. Apart from that, I love the game. It’s been great to me over the years.
“As I said, this is what I always wanted to do. I’m really enjoying it. But there was a teenage rebellion, yes, for three days.
“I look back on it now, and my parents were actually so good and said: ‘Look, Rory, we just want you to be happy and do whatever you want to do and enjoy it’.
“Probably on the inside they’re saying, ‘what’s he thinking? What’s he doing?’ There was no panic and it was just me being a grumpy teenager”.
However, the now 25 year-old — and only the third player in the history of the game to win three Majors by age 26 — is not looking remotely like experiencing any crisis of faith now, following his victory at Royal Liverpool recently.
McIlroy jetted into Arkon yesterday morning and played the outward nine of the Firestone Country Club course with fellow PGA champion, Keegan Bradley and Rickie Fowler, the player McIlroy partnered over the final day in his British Open win.
And McIlroy’s previous performances on the Firestone course are encouraging with three top-10s in his five appearances, including a best of fifth a week prior to capturing the 2012 PGA Championship.
“Becoming World Number One again is a good way for me to come back and refocus on my game,” he said.
“There is a lot of things I am now focusing on and becoming World number one again is a big goal of mine.
“Also, I have never won a World Golf Championship so that’s another thing I would like to knock off the list even though I have now won three Majors so there is a lot of things to play for.”
And unlike the euphoria following his 2011 US Open success and 2012 PGA Championship triumph McIlroy says he’s not about to go overboard revelling in becoming a triple Major winner.
“It’s kind of something I’m going to have to handle from now on even though I’ve won another major championship,” he said.
“It is The Open. It’s the one that I dreamed about winning when I was a kid at Holywood Golf Club, holing all those putts to beat Tiger and beat Phil and beat Ernie.
“Again, I feel like I’ve done it. It’s great to be introduced as The Open champion, but I need to move on from that and say I’ve got a lot more golf left this year, and I want to achieve a lot more.
“I’m enjoying being The Open champion, but that’s not all I want to be this year. I want to do more.
“So the next number in my head is four. I’ve won three of them. I’d like to win my fourth, and that’s it, and just try and keep going like that, just one after the other.
“And if it adds up to whatever number it adds up to in my career, then that’s great. I don’t want to put that pressure on myself. I don’t want to put that burden of a number to try and attain.”
The current World number two will be among 77 players from 22 countries, including the complete top-50 in the World Rankings, who will tee-up in suburban Akron.
It will be the first occasion, barring withdrawals, since the 2012 PGA Championship a tournament will feature the entire top-50 on the rankings.
* McIlroy has the chance to get back to number one in the world for a first time since March 2013 if he wins the $US9m event and current World No. 1 Adam Scott, and former Firestone champion, finishes outside the top-five.
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