It’s just the story of Rory McIlroy’s life so far – as far as controversies go, he seems to be the man with the Midas touch. Even his marriage last Friday to Erica Stoll is dividing opinion.
The couple tied the knot in a lavish, and what was an extremely hush-hush, ceremony held at the magnificent Ashford Castle in the small Irish town of Cong.
Reportedly, a bevy of A-list celebrities attended the wedding, with performances from Stevie Wonder and Coldplay, and including his golfing friends like Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington, apart from well-known stars like Niall Horan and Ed Sheeran.
The couple wanted the marriage to be a private affair, and McIlroy went the distance to make sure it was held that way. It is said that the four-time major champion had the place on virtual lock-down – to the extent that he even hired anti-drone technology – apart from the presence of a massive police cordon and request to the attending guests not to use their cellphones for anything more than receiving and making phone calls.
That did not go down well with some of the Irish press, and there was a particular column on the popular independent.ie website that was critical of McIlroy for not allowing his Irish fans to get a glimpse of the happiest day in the life of their superstar.
If the McIlroy wedding video isn't on Netflix by 6pm, questions must be asked.— Ewan Murray (@mrewanmurray) April 25, 2017
It then made a ridiculous comparison to Brian O’Driscoll, who spent almost an hour with the local media providing comments and photo opportunity on his big day.
The comment piece has been dissed by McIlroy’s peers, the serious sport media and by most of his fans, although there have been odd voice of support from some netizens, who believe that those who lead such public life as McIlroy, should be prepared for some prying.
Really, we need to give McIlroy a break. His life on the golf course is an open book, but what he does at a personal level away from it, should be left to him to decide whether it should be made public or not.
Having said that, being a journalist, I can understand the frustration that the local media would have. McIlroy’s wedding would have been the biggest thing to have happened to Cong in months. There would be some editors breathing down on their golf and social reporters to get some details, some images and write some stories.
What would have been the best case scenario was McIlroy himself releasing a couple of pictures on his own social media channels. That probably would have satisfied everybody.
DECISION’S STILL MUDDLED
In the aftermath of what happened to Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration, golf’s governing bodies Royal & Ancient and the United States Golf Association have come up with a decision to limit the use of video evidence.
On Tuesday, the new Decision of the Rules of Golf provided tournament officials guidelines on when not to resort to high-definition footage.
The two areas where it works is when the video evidence reveals something that cannot be discerned by the naked eye, and it will honour players who have made a reasonable judgement.
So, if a drop is not entirely correct by the law, but doesn’t give player undue advantage, will not result in penalty for the player. And in the case of a slight movement of the ball, or like what happened last year with Anna Nordqvist where she touched a few grains of sand on her backswing and was visible only on high-def pictures, again, there would be no penalty.
And yet, you could not get rid of the feeling that there should have been more clarity on the issue.
For one, armchair anoraks can still call in and complain. So, in all probability, there will still be more trials for players in the future.
Also, in Thompson’s case, she would have still got the four-shot penalty unless the officials felt that she did not move her ball much while replacing it. The new decision does not take away the two-shot penalty for submitting a wrong scorecard, something that Thompson would have been unaware of on the day the incident took place.
GOOD WEEK – BROOKS KOEPKA
Ask any professional golfer – it’s never a good thing finishing second. But we think the Texas Open runner-up will be delighted with his finish, especially because of the way he was struggling at the start of the year. His best result until Dell Match Play was a tied 42nd, but the hugely talented American has turned things around in great style since finishing tied ninth there.
BAD WEEK – LI HAOTONG
The top-ranked Chinese star shot identical rounds of 75 and missed the cut by five shots at the Shenzhen International.
There is a lot of expectation from Haotong, especially when he is playing in mainland China. It was disappointing also because he is the defending champion at Volvo China Open this week and the form does not augur well for the tournament.
WHAT’S IN THE BAG – KEVIN CHAPPELL
Driver: TaylorMade 2016 M1 (10.5 degrees)
3-wood: TaylorMade 2017 M1 (15 degrees)
5-wood: TaylorMade 2017 M1 (18 degrees)
Irons: Nike Pro Combo (4-6); Nike MMProto (7-9)
Wedges: Nike Engage Square Sole (48 degrees), PXG 0311T Milled (52-, 56- and 60-degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron T5MB
Ball: Nike RZN Tour Platinum