McIlroy the perfect judge of just how much of himself he gives to golf

On Thursday afternoon, the English golfer Ian Poulter posted a quick video poking fun at a miserable lunch he shared with a select group of elite golfers which included Rory McIlroy.

It was taken in the players’ lounge at Sawgrass and the scene resembled an average school canteen: coke bottles and Styrofoam trays. Poulter quickly panned around the table and McIlroy gave a sheepish wave as the English man explained that the four men at table had fired a shocking combined 29 over par after the first day’s play at the Players Championship at Sawgrass.

“What a bunch of muppets,” Poulter groaned.

It was a likeable glimpse behind the scenes; mordant and funny and it cast golf in precisely the right light at this moment of time; as an escape and a distraction from the daily stresses and dullness of the pandemic era.

And yet, it would be a cold day in hell before Tiger Woods, even at his lowest, would ever allow himself to feature in a moment that poked fun at the idea of himself as a golfer.

Who knows whether Poulter told his companions about his little sketch in advance? But the greater likelihood is that he just picked up his phone and started recording because he is one of the more prolific social media enthusiasts in sport.

Poulter seems like a good sort and his general excellence at golf has provided a wonderfully lucrative career as one of those specialists at hanging around the fringes of the leaderboard contenders while rarely striding forth as a true threat. In that regard, he exists in a different realm to McIlroy, who can do things in golf that the best of the rest can’t.

As the 2019 winner, McIlroy was defending champion at Sawgrass (the 2020 version was cancelled after the first day because of the looming pandemic) and was pressed upon to do a lot of broadcast interviews this week.

He’s a dream for tournament organisers and networks alike because he excels at this stuff; he’s a natural communicator, he treats people with respect, is occasionally provocative and willingly introspective when it comes to accurately forecasting the elusive wild lightning of his very best game.

He’s open and engaging and chats away in the Ulster-Pacific Coast accent patented by G-Mac, where the vowels and consonant pronunciations heard around Pebble Beach mingle freely with those bouncing around the night scene in Portrush.

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