Rory McIlroy’s crowning moment | ‘Full Swing’ Ep. 8 recap
The long-anticipated Netflix series “Full Swing” hit streaming devices on Feb. 15 with eight episodes featuring a dozen stars who brought us inside their homes and lives on tour in 2022. So, what did you miss? And what do you need to know? Here, we’ll break down every episode.
Rory McIlroy knew what was coming. Both on the day he said ‘F—k you, Phil’ in front of the Netflix cameras, and also just last week, when we talked about his episode, the eighth and final ep of Full Swing’s debut season.
McIlroy gave Netflix producers perhaps the quote of the show during a physio session. You could hear Scottie Scheffler cracking up, his body heaving, face down on a training table. McIlroy knew the cameras were on him and said what everyone was thinking: “I hope that makes it in.”
Then Scheffler replied with what everyone knew: “I guarantee that makes it in.”
Last week, moments after he hit a tee shot on TPC Scottsdale’s stadium hole, I asked McIlroy if he had watched his episode of “Full Swing.” He said he had — that was the only one he’d consumed to date — adding “I know what the meme is going to be.”
It’s a good example of the advanced awareness McIlroy possesses. He knows how production works. He knows what people care about. He knows when to open his mouth and when to give us something to chew on. He also knows he’s the most important golfer on the PGA Tour not-named Tiger Woods. That’s what episode 8, named “Everything has led to this” is really about. McIlroy’s stature and role within the game, and eventually him standing atop it all at the Tour Championship.
What golf fans might have learned
Not everything has been smooth for McIlroy as PGA Tour leader. The Delaware meeting that he and Tiger Woods led to create a new future for the best players on the PGA Tour was an important moment in 2022. But the week that followed was clearly not the most copacetic. McIlroy was captured having lunch with Andy Pazder, an executive for the PGA Tour, discussing the reaction among players to the schedule changes.
“I don’t know if Jay has communicated this to you but the mandatory [clause] — there’s been a lot of blowback on that by the guys in the room,” McIlroy told Pazder.
“They were sort of blindsided by it. That’s sort of the feeling. ‘We knew there were going to be four new elevated events but we didn’t know they were going to be mandatory.’”
One thing golf fans know is that it’s not easy to get every player to agree on a topic. There are too many voices to unite. But McIlroy was steadfast during the ’22 Tour Championship. He was ready to tell his fellow Tour members what was necessary for the Tour to move forward.
“I said to Cantlay yesterday, ‘If I’m willing to do this, you should too,’” he said. “No other athletes in the world get to choose when and where they play. We’ve all just gotten a little soft.”
This may not have had conclusive meaning for the 2022 Tour season, nor for the Full Swing doc, but it does portend some interesting trend for where the Tour sits at the moment, with designated events playing out with massive purses and everyone wondering Who should be in the field?
What non-golf fans might have learned
That Rory is second-coming of Woods. He wore Nike and Nike only as a junior golfer. He was making full swings in the living room throughout his adolescence. He hit chip shots on television talk shows in front of live audiences.
“Americans have Tiger Woods,” the host says in archived footage after McIlroy chipped through the swinging door of a washing machine. “We have Rory McIlroy, and believe me, this boy can hit a ball.”
Non-Golf fans know Tiger Woods and perhaps they’ve heard of McIlroy. But they certainly won’t know how similar some of their career arcs have been. This episode is a good reminder of that.
Who walked up St. Andrews with the fans jumping over the Swilcan Burn in 2000? Tiger Woods. Who does it (in defeat) in 2022? Rory McIlroy.
Lest we forget that Nike once ran a major marketing campaign on how McIlroy viewed Woods as his idol forever. Woods has been a leader on the PGA Tour mostly because of his brilliance, and McIlroy has followed suit with that, too. But as viewers will see in this episode, McIlroy has become a leader in his actions and decisions behind closed doors as well.
3 random thoughts
1. Lee Trevino still has his fastball. Netflix producers captured Trevino holding court during the Open’s Celebration of Champions Challenge. Standing around him are Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, McIlroy and Georgia Hall, and Trevino has them all in stitches, ribbing Nicklaus for some wedge shot he hit on the 9th hole in the 1971 U.S. Open playoff. The 83-year-old has long been lauded as one of the funniest characters in golf, and apparently, his jokes never get old. He’s firm atop the list of people in golf I’d like to spend an hour with.
2. Life behind closed doors is pretty casual, even boring. Producers captured McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa eating lunch. What were the topics of choice? Their rounds, their upcoming schedules and the average age on Tour. Not exactly riveting stuff! But think about how riveting your own work lunch conversations can be. This is that for them.
3. McIlroy said he can name off the last 50 Masters champions and the last 50 Open champions. I want to see this in action. If he can, that’s damn impressive. Surely he’d slip up and forget Todd Hamilton or someone. Perhaps he’d forget about one of Seve Ballesteros’ victories. Surely! Maybe not, though. Here’s to whoever asks him to do it on camera.
1 thing you might have missed
The Rory story is told exclusively by the man himself, and that’s purposeful. McIlroy did not sign on to be involved with the show until very late in the season, even after all the majors had been played. When he did agree, it was on his terms only. He explained it last week at the WM Phoenix Open:
“I made sure that the parameters were very much like, look, you can film me at — you’re not coming to my house, you’re not coming in my car, you’re not coming anywhere near my family, but you want to do some stuff with me at golf tournaments, totally fine,” McIlory said. “They were the ground rules that were sort of set, and here we are.”
Not everyone is interested in playing ball with Netflix for Full Swing. Jon Rahm wasn’t involved with the season, nor was Xander Schauffele. But the story of 2022 could not be told without McIlroy’s involvement, so kudos to him for eventually agreeing to it.
“F–k you, Phil.”
Need we say more? McIlroy was joking in this moment, for sure, but also not. Phil Mickelson has taken on the villain role in the pro golf world, as far as McIlroy’s interests are concerned. The Netflix cameras were in a great spot at a great time and McIlroy delivered them some gold.
That’s it. The first season is over, and what a perfect way to wrap it up. For those wondering if there will be a second season of Full Swing, just know that production for it has already started. Producers were at Torrey Pines, the WM Phoenix Open and even were on a plane with Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry from Phoenix to LA for the Genesis Invitational. Now, all we’re waiting for is Netflix to sign on the dotted line.