There are ways for athletes to fight with the media. You can ignore them, you can freeze them out, you can give them bland cliches ... or you can go right at them, as Rory McIlroy did on Thursday:
Who's Jay Townsend, and what did he do that was so wrong? Townsend is an American, a former European Tour player who now commentates for the BBC, and on Thursday he lit up McIlroy for Rory's rocky play and caddie JP Fitzgerald's skills. Townsend called McIlroy's course management "shocking" and "some of the worst I have ever seen beyond under-10's boys golf competition."
McIlroy, as you can see, didn't take kindly to that, and responded accordingly. But did he go too far? Certainly, the media dishes out criticism and should be able to take it, but McIlroy's line about Townsend being "a failed golfer" crosses a line of professional courtesy. (If Tiger Woods had written something like that, he'd have been torched.) Every golfer is one injury, one bad shot at the wrong time, one case of the yips from being a "failed golfer," and the golf gods, if you believe in such deities, may not take kindly to McIlroy trashing one of his own in that way.
McIlroy is young, yes, but he's still a major winner and should be conducting himself with a touch more class than a keyboard-banging Internet commenter. (Not talking about you, dear reader. Of course not.) Decorum, you know? Still, McIlroy cooled down, even if he didn't back down:
"He's been having a go at JP every now and again since then and this was the first time I've responded. It was the straw that broke the camel's back," McIlroy later told Press Association Sport. "Now I've blocked him on Twitter so I won't be reading anything more."
That darned Internet. Gets everybody into trouble. I'll be glad when the fad passes.
McIlroy hits back at Townsend [Belfast Telegraph]
- Rory McIlroy