When the Paris Olympics roll around in 2024 Rory McIlroy will be 35. Hopefully he’ll have added to his major haul and we can all stop fascinating over what does and doesn’t make him tick in the big ones. Better still he’ll have ticked off the career Grand Slam with some long-overdue success at Augusta National and it will spur him on to a collection of Green Jackets, much like Phil Mickelson. He might become a father for a second time. He might change coach or equipment manufacturer. Who knows any of these things?
But one certainty is that he’ll sign up for Le Golf National in three years and, if selected, represent Ireland in another Games. In Rio he pulled out, citing the Zika virus, this time around he only seemed to be in Tokyo as it was the right thing to do. He’s uncomfortable with the flags, anthems and nationalities but Tokyo has taught him plenty and, all being well, it might play a big part in ticking off some of his loftier goals.
“It’s funny, when you sort of approach tournaments like that, it's funny how you end up playing some of your best golf. Sometimes you can want things too much. I have never obviously never competed in an Olympic Games, I watched them from a far, but being a part of something that's completely different and bigger than me and even our sport in general, that's a pretty cool thing. So, I didn't know if this was going to be my only Olympics that I play or whatever and I'm already looking forward to Paris.
Then things got a bit weirder...
“The one thing that's on that I would love to go and see is dressage. It's mesmerising and it's on tonight at like 7:30. I'll watch it on TV. I watch it once every few years, obviously and it's really cool.”
We all want McIlroy to play loose and free but the reality, with everyone’s and your own expectations, can be very different. A newish outlook and putter (a Scotty Cameron similar to one he won his first two majors with) have now got him going in the right direction.
“I think all the tools are there physically. It’s not looking at white stakes or red hazards. There's trees and there's whatever, but you can figure out a way to get around them and chip out and I like that. (With the putter) I think I sort of want to get back to being as athletic and instinctive as possible and I feel like that style of putter, that blade, it sort of helps me do that. It makes me become very target oriented, at the hole and having my focus be out there, instead of in here (looking down).”
As for why he’s not wearing a cap this week….
“My head is so small that I have to get Nike to make me custom hats. So, whenever I’m in a team event and the hats aren’t custom, they’re all too big.”