Why the American Golf Media Hates Rory McIlroy (Countdown: Only 3 More Waiting Days Left Until Rory)

Rory McIlroy has exposed the American golf media as liars and fools, and they are not happy about it. Rory has turned their Tiger Woods mythology into an albatross around their collective necks. For fifteen years, the golf media has lived in a fantasyland where Woods was as peerless to them as One Direction is to ten-year-old girls.

Remember when Woods first went into decline in 2010 and 2011? The golf media continued to focus on Woods because, they whined, “parity” had overtaken golf, and parity was boring, so of course they had no option but to continue discussing Woods. Well, there’s certainly no parity now. Rory is clear of the OWGR field by four full points. He’s riding a two-majors win streak. In his last twelve events, he has won four times and finished second four times. His worse result in that period is T-22. If parity was preventing the golf media from moving past Woods, what is their excuse now?

The golf media also crafted a narrative about the “athleticism” and “fitness” of Woods and how he was bringing “real athletes” into golf. I have never understood this narrative; if you can find even a shred of truth in it, you are a better man than I.  And, besides, how would pushing such a narrative benefit golf?  The theory is that in the future golfers will look like NBA power forwards. This is because, one presumes, the skills needed to elbow aside 6’9″ 270-pounders and grab a rebound are precisely the same skills needed to pitch a golf ball 60 yards over a bunker onto a linoleum-tile green. The idea is that “big, strong athletes” will hit (findable) 400-yard drives, and everything else will just naturally fall into place due to “athleticism.” Because, we all know, Lebron James could win the world table tennis championship if only he put his mind to it.

Well, Rory is shorter than Lebron James. And he’s shorter than Gary Woodland and Dennis Johnson and every other “athlete” the golf media has offered up as the prototype for Golf’s Future. And he’s steamrolling them like Marshawn Lynch playing Pee Wee League. Rory’s success has taken the golf media’s cartoonish narrative of “athleticism” and shown it to be, “Eh… not so much.”

[Of course, the biggest flaw in this golf media narrative is that size equates to athleticism. To maintain their narrative, the media has to somehow justify leaving out guys like Manny Paquiao, Floyd Mayweather, Kirby Puckett, Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, and Wes Welker — to name but a few — from their universe of “athletes.”]

Rory is also a pain in the butt for the American golf media when it comes to the Ryder Cup. NBC/Golf Channel have invested a lot of money in the rights to broadcast the Ryder Cup, so they are bound to treat the event as a Really Big Deal. Of course, Rory McIlroy, David Duval, and Tiger Woods have all at one time or another called the event a mere “exhibition,” but we’re talking big dollars here, so NBC and Golf Channel — and any reporter who doesn’t want to get on the wrong side of those two and miss out on potential television time — must treat the Ryder Cup as if every player on either team would not gladly take 0-5 in order win a major. Or a regular Tour event, for that matter.

At any rate, the Ryder Cup is a big deal in the media, so praising Rory, him being the “enemy” and all,  causes cognitive dissonance among the carefully indoctrinated patriotic followers of the Ryder Cup. Who cares if you sour 103 weeks of golf coverage because, if America were to fall in love with Rory, it might make Ryder Cup week less compelling.

One of my favorites: Americans love a redemption story. This has been said millions of times, surely, about Tiger Woods. This was why “all golf fans want to see Tiger return to prominence.” We Americans might not like it that Woods was living a lie, but, by golly, we want to see him redeem himself after all his self-created problems.

Hardly.  I don’t think anyone is wearing themselves out cheering for the redemption of investment swindler Bernie Madoff, or wife beater Ray Rice, or Tour de France thief Lance Armstrong. They made their beds; they can lie in them. Same with Tiger Woods. Screw him; he caused his own problems by running the biggest PR con game in American history.

Rory, on the other hand, is the embodiment of what people mean by “redemption story.” Fate dealt Young Rory a cruel blow at the 2011 Masters. In the wake of his Augusta collapse, he was belittled nonstop by the golf media for two months. During that time, Rory went to Haiti as Ireland’s UNICEF ambassador to help the people recover from an earthquake, reminding Rory, and anyone else paying attention, that losing a golf tournament is hardly Fate’s cruelest blow. A few days later, as everyone knows, Rory found golf redemption at Congressional, winning in a runaway.

That’s a redemption story.  That’s the real deal.

Our golf media is hopelessly lost, entangled in a forest of rationalizations, clinging to the false belief that their mythology can be repackaged — “Tiger’s struggles are just as compelling as his dominance was,” I’ve already heard — and sold to the public once again.

Meanwhile, Rory, on schedule to equal Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors (and the current betting favorite to do so) is largely ignored. It matters not that Rory has ripped “parity” out of the golf reporter’s vocabulary. He has shredded their theory of the future of golf athleticism. He has complicated their flag-waving insistence that the Ryder Cup is more than a “pretty big corporate outing.” And he’s shown their professed love of redemption stories to be nothing more than hot air.

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8 Responses to Why the American Golf Media Hates Rory McIlroy (Countdown: Only 3 More Waiting Days Left Until Rory)

  1. Brian Penn says:

    Lanny, great read and I agree on all points with the exception of the likelihood of Rory catching Jack, for two reasons. One, he gets tremendous torque on his follow through and I don’t believe the human body (back) is designed to withstand that over time. And second, he didn’t have the benefit of the early age brainwashing administered to Tiger via Earl. Rory’s interests are a bit too varied to focus on such a monumental achievement for the duration required. When will the next Woz come along? But only time will prove me right or wrong on that. Thanks!


    • lannyh says:

      Thanks, Brian. I don’t disagree. I have such concerns myself. But after nearly two decades of being bludgeoned by “Tiger’s pursuit of Jack,” I can’t help but tweak that crowd.

      • Anonymous says:

        Whether you like it or not, the narrative will be “Can Rory catch Tiger” before the media focuses on the “Can Rory pass Jack” question.

        Overall, I don’t think the media “hates” Rory. He’s just, kind of….boring. But, if he continues to win like he has been, and does it on the US Tour then the media will migrate towards him. I just (highly) doubt it’ll be anywhere near that of TW or even to the level you want it to be.

    • Sports-realist says:

      You’re saying the Rory didn’t have the brainwashing, but neither did Nicklaus, and Nicklaus has the major record….Monumental acheivement? Rory has been doing mostly golf, and already dumped a girl for the sport….Rory is well aware of what those major records mean, and he would love his own ‘golf slam’…….Nicklaus had a family ect, and got to 18….

  2. Ken says:

    Even with a quick four majors, I think it’s way too early to even think about Rory catching Jack. Golf careers often go suddenly off the rails.

    Will the media talk about Rory catching Tiger? Maybe for a while, but not as Woods fades. Then if Rory is still winning, they’ll start the talk about Nicklaus. Why would they talk about him catching the second place guy? They didn’t talk about Woods catching Hagen.

    How is Rory boring? Really how is any player more excitingthan others? Never have understood the fans who only watch when Woods plays. In the end, the winning score is always similar. Why is Woods at -13 more exciting than Scott Stallings at -13?

  3. Ken says:

    Love your comment about players gladly taking 0-5 in the RC in exchange for a major or any PGA win. I agree totally. I really think some of the super-gung-ho European Ryder Cuppers are pretty much putting on an act. They’re trying to convince themselves of the importance of the RC, building it into some accomplishment parallel to a major. I think some of the Garcia-Poulter-Montgomerie-Westwood enthusiasm is just psychological compensation. Rory’s enthusiasm is jumping on the team bandwagon, nothing more. I’m sure that he enjoys it, wants to win. But it’s meaningless next to a major.

  4. Anonymous says:

    enjoy your writing Lanny…thanks

  5. Pingback: Karen Crouse Makes Case For Why Women Should Be Paid Less Than Men (Countdown: Only 2 More Waiting Days Left Until Rory McIlroy) | Lanny H Golf

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