March 02, 2011
There's no doubt about it, Rory McIlroy is one of golf's great young talents. Only 21 years old, he's positioned himself as a future star in the sport -- a cocky, yet confident, golfer that has the game to contend every time he tees it up. But if there's one part of his game that definitely needs work, it's his mouth ... and the words that tend to come out it when talking about Tiger Woods.
He hasn't reached Stephen Ames territory yet, but he's getting closer with every interview and question he answers for the media. Challenging Woods prior to last year's Ryder Cup was one thing, but McIlroy pushed the envelope even more at the Accenture Match Play when he was asked to give his opinion on the state of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods' games.
Instead of giving a non-answer to the question, McIlroy didn't hold back: "I don’t think Tiger and Phil have got any... Well.... I don’t think Phil has got any worse."
It was another cringe-worthy moment, brought to you by a brash 21-year-old who can't seem to stop giving his opinion on Woods' game. But McIlroy wasn't done. He saved his best for last, penning a self-bylined golf.com article where he spent the opening two paragraphs talking about, you guessed it, Tiger Woods.
I wasn't playing against Tiger Woods when he had that aura. I was watching on TV! I remember getting nervous when I first met him. I was 15. There was a presence about him. [...] But Tiger is not playing as well as he was even a couple of years ago, never mind going back to the late 1990s and early 2000s, when he was at his best. I'm not sure we are going to see him dominate again the way he did. He never seemed like he would make a mistake.
We get it, Rory, you don't think Tiger's going to dominate again; and you don't think his game has gotten any better this year. Both are fairly obvious, based on Woods' recent results. But why even mention Tiger? It makes no sense at all to discuss the state of his game -- especially when he's in the midst of the worst stretch of his career.
As my colleague Shane Bacon wrote recently on Woods, "let's talk about when he's done something good, and until then, forget about the guy for awhile." Hopefully McIlroy can heed that advice and leave the guy alone; there's no reason he should be talking about Woods for the second time in a week.
McIlroy will learn how to handle these situations in time, but right now he'd be best off just sticking to what he's good at: winning golf tournaments and adding more Twitter followers.