Nick Faldo had some pretty intensely critical remarks for Rory McIlroy at his press conference at the British Open earlier this week. Here's what the 1987 and 1992 winner at Muirfield had to say:
"I actually think it's a lot going on in his mind. You've got to have -- I always felt, my career went on, I got involved in business and other things. Once your concentration goes -- you need 100 percent concentration, off the golf course, practicing, as well. Most ideal is to go to the club, 9:00 in the morning, hit balls all day long, and you leave at 5:00. And you think that was cool, that was great, what a lovely day I had. You've been really productive. You have to do that. You have a window of opportunity. That's my only words of wisdom to Rory."
OK, does Faldo know what McIlroy's practice schedule looks like, or is he just making assumptions based on Twitter feeds?
McIlroy responded, and I mean responded, at his presser on Wednesday:
"I saw what he said, and he said I should be at the course nine to five. I actually was on the range at 6:15, and got out of the gym at 6:15, actually a 12-hour day compared to his eight-hour day. It is what it is, and Nick should know how hard this game is at times. And he's been in our position before. And he should know how much work that we all do put into it."
I'm glad Rory fired back at him. If Faldo was actually trying to help, he would pull McIlroy aside privately and say, "Hey, this is what I did when I went into a slump" and move on from there. But instead, he's just trying to make what he accomplished (which was a lot) somehow look better by criticizing somebody's work ethic that he might or might not be totally aware of.
Granted, I think Faldo was referencing McIlroy's various trips around Europe with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki in non-British Open weeks and interests in things that aren't golf. But you know what? It's OK that McIlroy isn't consumed with golf like Faldo was or like Tiger Woods is.
He's still a professional and, tooth incidents aside, he has always carried himself like one. You don't have to play golf 15 hours a day to prove that.
It's all right to not want to become a legend, to not fully give your soul over to the game (as Michael Thompson's coach asserted earlier this year that Woods has done).
It's all right to be whoever you want to be. McIlroy said this was his approach in his press conference.
"What's the big deal? I haven't had the best six months, but it's not -- it's OK. I'm fine. I've got a good life. So, you know, it doesn't bother me. I'm in a good place."
He's right, too. He's in a great place with a good game, some rich endorsements and a (by all accounts) cool relationship with a world-class tennis player.
So, yeah. What's the big deal?