Rory McIlroy was sung to by a group of kids. It had all the feels

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on Friday on the 8th tee at Quail Hollow Club.

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Rory McIlroy was appreciative. He was reflective. He was understanding. He was appreciative again. He was frustrated. He was reflective again. He was hopeful. He was appreciative again. All across 96 words and one answer. 

Birthdays and birthday wishes make you feel some things. 

“It was very nice,” McIlroy said Thursday when asked how he felt after folks all around the Wells Fargo Championship were hoping he had a merry 34th.  

“I think this is my 11th birthday I’m celebrating in Charlotte. I’m sort of getting used to it. Yeah, look, it’s really nice. It’s not nice to have to wake up at 4:30 a.m. on your birthday, but at the end — it’s just another day. I feel just as good now as I did at 24, so with that, I still feel like I’ve got a lot of good years left in me. It’s nice to be out there and everyone wishing you, sort of wishing you a good day.”

Indeed. And then there was his 33rd year. It was everything. And then some. Folks could write books on this, but we’ll try to hold it all to a few sentences. We’ll go in loose order. There was the win at the Canadian Open and the jab at Greg Norman. There were near-misses, again, at the PGA Championship, U.S. Open and Open Championship, the latter of which, at St. Andrews, being most painful. There was battling LIV Golf. There was reshaping the PGA Tour. There was the victory at the Tour Championship. There was the crown for winning the DP World Tour’s season-long points race. There was the rise back to world No. 1. There was a collapse at the Masters. That’s a lot. And that’s just his job. 

And there was the timeout. After Augusta, he took one. By doing so, he forfeited $3 million by skipping one of the PGA Tour’s elevated events, but man, he needed a break. (If you’re needing a breakdown of why he lost his money, please click here.)

“I think I needed to put golf in perspective a little more,” McIlroy told a group of reporters on Tuesday at Quail Hollow Club. “I feel like it’s totally consumed my life for the last 12 months. It’s been a pretty tumultuous time, and being in the position that I’m in, it’s taken up a lot of my time.

“I think the last 12 months with everything that’s went on … it’s been a big 12 months. I don’t know I fully, like, sat down to really reflect on stuff. I never really had a chance to think about the Open at St. Andrews and everything that went on there.

“It was nice to have three weeks to just put all that stuff in the rearview mirror and focus on what’s ahead. Three more majors. The entire golf season still to play. It was a good three weeks to sort of do all that and get refreshed and get ready for the next few months.”

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And that wheels us back to his birthday. 

And again putting things in perspective, and while it’s an empty, overused phrase, it does kinda fit well here. You take stock. You assess. Birthdays especially make you do that. 

Which is maybe why a moment on Wednesday hit a little differently.

Thirty-four kids sang McIlroy a happy 34th. 

Optum, a healthcare service provider that McIlroy supports, had gathered the crew. They had them make signs. They brought McIlroy a birthday cake in the shape of his TaylorMade golf bag, complete with the dog headcover. They hit record and shared the video to social media. The gang lined up to the right of a tee box on Wednesday. McIlroy hit. He started to walk down the fairway. 

They began their song. 

And it had, as they say, all the feels. And there appeared not a care to be had, not from the kids, and not from the birthday boy who had been caring a lot lately. And it was fun. And if you were wondering where McIlroy’s head was at, well, here you go.  

“Happy birthday to you. 

“Happy birthday, dear Rory. 

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“Happy birthday to you.” 

He came over to his serenaders. The video showed him shaking a hand of a girl holding a sign that said: “HBD Rory McIlroy.” “My dad’s a big fan,” she said. He thanked her, then asked, “What about you? Are you a fan?” She smiled and nodded. 

There was more. Considering everything lately for the man of the hour, it was fitting. Toward the end of the video, Optum added this line: “As an Optum Health Ambassador, Rory is helping destigmatize mental health … with some helpful suggestions from his friends.”

The kids gave some. It was adorable. It was light. 

Think of all of it simply as a much-needed, refreshing palate cleanser, and we’ll leave it at that. And McIlroy? He’s playing the weekend at the Wells Fargo. He’s seven back of the lead. 

Below is the video that was shared Thursday. The boys and girls’ ideas are below that. 

Kid one: “My mental health tip for you guys at home is to go outside.”

Kid two: “Playing soccer.” 

Kid three: “Getting plenty of exercise.” 

Kid four: “Playing with my friends.” 

Kid five: “Playing soccer.” 

Kid six: “Eating vegetables.” 

Kid seven: “Playing baseball.” 

Kid eight: “Stay active and dance.” 

Kid nine: “Playing golf.” 

Kid 10: “Play with my friends.” 

Kid 11: “Get more sleep everyday.” 

Kid 12: “Playing with my dog.” 

Kid 13: “Going outdoors.” 

Kid 14: “Eating my broccoli.” 

Kid 15: “Journaling.” 

Kid 16: “Play basketball and go outside.” 

Kid 17: “Walk my dog.” 

Kid 18: “Being active through sports and having people around you that can lift you up.” 

Kid 19: “Hitting golf balls in my backyard.” 

Kid 20: “Play hockey every day.” 

Kid 21: “Listen to music.” 

Kid 22: “Spending time outside.” 

Kid 23: “Getting enough exercise everyday.” 

Kid 24: “Read everyday.” 

Kid 25: “Play baseball.” 

Kid 26: “Eat broccoli and play baseball.” 

Kid 27: “Play activities like baseball and basketball.”

Kid 28: “Play with my dog.”

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.

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