Rory McIlroy has received plenty of criticism of late for his struggles to close out tournaments on Sundays, stumbling, surprisingly, when the lights are shining brightest.
The same can’t be said, however, for the Northern Irishman on Tuesdays or Wednesdays of tournament weeks when he meets with the media. That’s when McIlroy always delivers, sometimes to a fault. Indeed, that’s the beauty of Rory. He usually says exactly what’s on his mind, taking whatever heat (and sometimes praise) that comes with it. There are no packaged answers or “no comments.”
He stuck to this routine during his Wednesday press conference at the Farmers Insurance Open, where McIlroy is teeing it up this week for the first time in his career. Asked about viral sensation Ho-sung Choi, who will make his PGA Tour debut in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in two weeks, the four-time major winner was his brutally honest self. Here’s the interesting, full exchange he had with a reporter on site:
Q: What goes through your mind when you see Ho-sung Choi swing a club and his follow-through?
Q. The Asian player who’s doing all the gyrations.
McIlroy: Oh, the guy, he’s playing Pebble.
McIlroy: I mean, I mean, technically his swing is good. If you watch it up until impact, he’s technically got a pretty good swing. He’s obviously a pretty good player. Whether that means he should be taking a spot away from a PGA Tour player at a PGA Tour event, I’m not so sure.
But yeah, I mean, it’s gained a little bit of notoriety, and he’s a good player. I’m not sure a golf shot should mean that much to you that you’re doing that after you hit it, like it’s just trying a little too hard. You have to try hard at golf, but that’s taking it to an extreme.
McIlroy’s point about Choi “taking a spot” at Pebble is something you often hear when talking about a celebrity (country star Jake Owen) or athlete (Stephen Curry or Tony Rome) getting a chance to play in a professional event. It is a bit strange, however, when it’s referencing another pro golfer. Choi has two wins on the Japan Golf Tour, including one in November, as well as two more wins on the Korean Tour.
Most recently, Choi competed in the Singapore Open, which offered four spots in the Open Championship for players not otherwise exempt, and he tied for 12th in a field of more than 150 players. It’s certainly possible McIlroy has no idea of Choi’s record, and far lesser players have been given exemptions into PGA Tour events before.
Here’s the video of McIlroy’s quote for some more context:
Not surprisingly, McIlroy has ignited a social-media debate, with some agreeing and many others coming out strong in defense of Choi. However you feel, Choi has clearly become a hot topic, and the golf world can’t wait to see what he does in Monterey in two weeks.