Rory McIlroy at the Masters and the Ballsiest Interviews in Golf History
Almost two weeks removed from the final round of the Masters, and the shock of watching Rory McIlroy's Sunday collapse is just starting to wear off.
While I thoroughly enjoyed watching the final round, especially the finishing holes, McIlroy's collapse was painful.
I do believe that McIlroy will eventually win multiple majors, but it isn't entirely his physical game that makes me think that.
Sure, he is a talented player, but that doesn't win tournaments, let alone majors. A month short of his 22nd birthday, McIlroy handled his post-round interview like a guy who has been on tour for 10 years.
That is what makes me think that he will win other majors. It would have been simple to turn down an interview, but he didn't. More than that, he was impressive in his interview.
A lot can make a ballsy interview. It doesn't have to come from who just lost, although it usually will.
Even when it does, it doesn't have to be someone who handled losing well, or someone who went on to have great success.
No, it just has to be someone who did something noteworthy, something that will stand out for a long time.
Maybe they faced the music after choking, made a bold statement, did something that got people talking, etc.
Rory McIlroy: 2011 Masters
He was self-effacing, critical, optimistic, and honest. Really, it's hard to expect that from any athlete, let alone someone of that age.
He said that he would be okay. Whether that ends up being true or not remains to be seen.
After losing in Malaysia, he is probably wondering if he will ever win again. It's hard to take that two weeks in a row.
I was most impressed by his answer to the question about his reaction on the 13th tee. Even though he saved par on that hole, his reaction to that drive splashing is what I will remember from that round.
His answer pretty much went along what I thought when I saw it. I am sure most viewers had the same thoughts.
What is so impressive is not that he did the interview, although it would have been understandable to blow it off.
No, what's impressive is his tone, his facial expression, and admitting that he was just in over his head on such a big stage.
The jury is still out on where this will stand in history.
If McIlroy does have great success, we may view this interview as what jump-started him.
If he doesn't, we won't remember what he said. We will just remember the collapse, and think that it started his downward spiral.
What's so ballsy about this? The timing of it, for one...how soon it was after the round was over.
Granted, he said himself that he knew he was out of the tournament after the drive on 13, so I guess he had some time to think about what he would say.
What's also ballsy is that the answers weren't clichés. He was up front with what was going through his mind. Not bad at all.
Sergio Garcia: 2007 British Open
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There have been several rulings where a golfer was penalized for some trivial reason. These penalties have led to them losing a tournament, missing a cut or failing to qualify for something.
Still, in these situations, the golfers have usually found a way to look at themselves first when talking about why they fell short.
Something like: "Well, if I made some putts earlier in the round, that penalty wouldn't have mattered."
Where does Garcia differ?
One, it was not a stupid rule that cost him this tournament. The closest thing to that was him having to wait for the bunker to be raked while he was in the 18th fairway.
Two, Garcia seemed to blame everyone and everything other than himself for his loss.
He blamed the person raking the bunker. He blamed the Golf Gods for not having his ball stop within a few feet of the flag after it struck the flag in the playoff.
Mind you, that was not bad luck; it was failure to get good luck. The same thing happened to Padraig Harrington on the 18th hole when he ball failed to go across the cart path and bounced in the water.
They both hit bad shots, they were both penalized. The rightful golfer won the 2007 British Open.
Why am I so critical of Garcia? After all, who would want to be judged based on their reaction at their greatest professional disappointment?
The answer is simple. Garcia has been doing this kind of thing for his entire career. He's a good professional golfer, not a great one. The reason he is not great is that his attitude has never been good.
In the 2002 US Open, he said that if Tiger Woods had been on the course with the bad weather, that play would have been delayed.
In 2009, he blamed Augusta for a ball of his that had collected mud in the fairway. Sure, that's frustrating, but it happens to everyone. To be fair, he did apologize for that.
Also, the British Open frustration was at a press conference. Those don't take place right after the round is over. He had time to think out what he was going to say.
Even at that, in the four years that have passed he still hasn't really backed off of what he said.
So, why should he be on this list? Yes, he was stupid. But it's pretty ballsy to blame the Golf Gods when you fail to win a tournament. It's even ballsier to make a career out of it.
Tiger Woods: Second Place Sucks
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Since his 2009 car accident, Tiger has been relatively aloof with the media.
Have whatever opinions you want on why that is, or whether he should be more open, but he hasn't always been that way.
"Hello World" was bold. Yes, he was a decorated amateur golfer, but to make such a comment implies that the world was waiting on him, which it was.
It also implies that you will be staying for a while, which he did.
Still, that is not his ballsiest comment. No, that came when he raised the bar at the highest possible level.
For anyone to say that "second place sucks" is ballsy. It is especially ballsy for a golfer who had accomplished very little as a professional golfer at that point.
And on that note, say what you will about Tiger, but he has carried that with him his entire career.
After not playing competitive golf between November 2009 and the 2010 Masters, Woods said that he was upset with his fourth-place finish.
If there was ever a time when not winning would be acceptable, it was then.
Taking such a stand, he was not saying that his goal was to be the best golfer of the era.
In three words, Woods said that his goal was to be the best golfer of all time. For a person who knew that he had the eyes of the sports world on him, that's pretty ballsy.
Dustin Johnson: 2010 PGA Championship
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Dustin Johnson was correctly penalized. The PGA had told golfers that the little spots of sand that were in the rough at Whistling Straits were indeed hazards.
The same was true in 2004 when the PGA Championship was first played there. There, Stuart Appleby endured a similar penalty.
So, even though he wasn't in the 2004 PGA Championship, Johnson had history to draw from.
His intent was not to cheat, but that doesn't matter in golf.
I know what the players were told, and I know what happened to Appleby. Yes, Johnson should have known that. But realistically, a bunker can't be a hazard if you are going to let the galleries walk in them.
Despite that, Johnson took his penalty like a man.
He was honest in that he didn't think he was in a sand trap, but he didn't blame anyone for the misfortune.
That interview was not right after his round, so we don't know what he did or said in the few minutes before he went in front of the camera.
Frankly, I don't care. Garcia could have done something similar. Taken a shower, or privately cussed out whoever he thought was responsible for his loss.
Basically, whatever he needed to do to put on a brave face in the conference would have been fine.
People in that situation need to do a better job of realizing that they're in front of a camera, and that a lot of people are watching.
Johnson was victimized by a bad rule and lost his chance to win a major. No, he wasn't happy, but he wasn't complaining.
Taking a rough break and handling it with class is ballsier than people give him credit for.
Phil Mickelson: 2006 US Open
"I am such an idiot." We all thought it, but for Phil Mickelson to say that after blowing the 2006 US Open was refreshing, and ballsy.
Mickelson made two fatal mistakes. One was hitting a driver that he had struggled to find fairways with all day. Two was taking such an aggressive line on his second shot, instead of laying up.
If he needed a birdie to win or force a playoff, that would have been fine. But he didn't need a birdie, he just needed a par to win, or a bogey to force a playoff.
If he doesn't make either of those mistakes, he is at least in a Monday playoff with Geoff Ogilvy.
Hearing him go through that hole, shot-by-shot, his logic makes some sense. He wasn't being bold for the sake of being bold. He wasn't trying to "win in style," by making a birdie.
Still, after hearing that logic, Mickelson summed up his feelings so simply, yet so harshly. "I am such an idiot."
For a golfer of that caliber to make such a declaration is ballsy. Granted, there aren't many ways to follow that question up, so he wasn't leaving himself open for a lot of tough questions after that.
But that's not a quote that we will be forgetting anytime soon. Sure, he has won since, and his career accomplishments can't be questioned.
But losing that tournament will always be a part of his legacy. That means that Lefty calling himself an idiot will always be part of his legacy.
Roberto De Vicenzo: 1968 Masters
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It's one thing to lose because of a mistake that you made.
Dustin Johnson lost his opportunity at a playoff in the 2010 PGA Championship because Dustin Johnson grounded his club.
Roberto De Vicenzo lost his spot in a playoff because somebody else wrote down the wrong score.
Yes, a golfer is responsible for checking his card before he signs it. Still, it's a bad mistake to write down the wrong score for your opponent.
To make matters worse, this mistake came on the 17th hole. It's one thing to not remember whether you took a par or a birdie early in the round. Or, at least to not have that stand out when double-checking the card.
But the 17th hole should be fresh on someone's mind when they finish their round.
De Vicenzo apparently had a similar feeling. "What a stupid I am," was his quote. He didn't blame his competitor (Tommy Aaron) for writing the wrong score, he took 100 percent of the blame.
Personally, I am not crazy about scorecards being used on tour. We all know that De Vicenzo took a three and not a four on the 17th hole. We all know he tied Bob Goalby. Why was he not in a playoff?
The answer to that is why more people aren't as aware of this mistake, or quote. That may save De Vicenzo in the future.
The coverage wasn't as in depth in 1968 as it is now. We didn't have a camera on every shot. So scorecards were more relevant.
Because of that, I don't believe any footage exists of this quote. We will hear Phil Mickelson calling himself an idiot long after he is gone, the same is not true here.
While the scorecard was more relevant in 1968, it was still an impossibly tough ruling.
Had he won that playoff, he would have won two out of three majors (De Vicenzo won the 1967 British Open). Who knows what that would have led to?
Despite all of that, De Vicenzo put all of the blame squarely on himself. That's ballsy.