Rory McIlroy’s dad mishits, and hot mics DO NOT miss his 2-word reaction

Rory McIlroy and Gerry McIlroy on Saturday at St. Andrews after their third round at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

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Gerry McIlroy swung, then swore, though his son has likely seen and heard this before. 

For one, Rory McIlroy said his dad’s a talker. Earlier this week, a reporter had asked the young Mac if his pop was the “perfect playing partner” — to which Rory replied: “At times, yes.” 

“My dad loves to chat and sometimes he’ll be chatting to someone else in the group and not realize I’m over my shot trying to hit a golf ball,” he continued. “I have to say, ‘Dad, just tone it down a little bit’ at times.

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“Yeah, if I were to make up a perfect foursome to play golf with the rest of my life, he would obviously be in it. We’ve had the opportunity to play here a number of times. We have played golf pretty much all over the world together, and again, it’s one of the great things about this game that we can do that.”

There’s more. Father and son want something to talk about. They’re playing the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship this week across three Scottish gems (St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns), where pros like Rory are playing for both themselves and a two-player pro-am team. Team McIlroy is one. And, yeah, Rory said he would swap individual glory for a family moment. 

With that all in mind, we go to the St. Andrews 14th tee. Team McIlroy was 19-under at this point; they finished at 22-under and are eight strokes out of the lead entering Sunday’s final round, they’re 22-under. 

Rory hit, down the middle.  

Gerry hit. 

“Another chance to have a look at the swing of McIlroy Senior,” the Sky Sports announcer said. 

His ball was moving left. 

“Ah s**t,” Gerry said, before looking down and his ball finishing in the left fescue. 

The announcer laughed. 

“Maybe I should apologize for that, but I think we all knew exactly what he was thinking,” he said. [A hat tip to Bunkered’s Michael McEwan for capturing the moment.)

Adding to the scene, analyst Tim Barter immediately followed with an on-course interview with Rory. 

That was cleaner. It’s worth sharing, too. 

“You’re out here playing with your dad, in a marquee event, at St. Andrews, the home of golf, on a day like this,” Barter began. “Just describe that experience for us.” 

“Yeah, Saturday at the Dunhill, St. Andrews, playing with my dad, playing with one of my best friends in Shane [Lowry], it doesn’t get much better than that,” McIlroy said. “It’s been a great place for us for a family for a long time, lot of memories created here, and just another great week here at the Dunhill.” 

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“Your dad once showed me the first club he ever gave you, a little 5-wood cut down to about 15 inches,” said Barter, also a longtime swing coach. “It had white dots on the grip that were smudged. And he said you ended up sleeping with it. Tell me the story.” 

“That one’s a bit wrong,” McIlroy said. “So yeah, he basically was trying to teach me how to grip the club properly so he put a little bit of, it might have been like white (inaudible) or something on the grip to try to show me where to put my fingers or my thumbs or something. And I guess I couldn’t wait to get ahold of it so I gripped it a bit too early, and yeah, obviously the white dots on it smudged. And then what I tried to do is, he wanted me to — I started off with a baseball grip and he wanted me to try to go to an interlock, so I basically took the club to bed one night and gripped into an interlock grip hoping that by the time I wake up the next morning, it will feel natural to me.” 

“Describe his contribution to your career because he got you started in the right way — he built you an artificial green in the garden, everything,” Barter said. “He did everything for you, didn’t he?”

“Yeah, he did, and my mom as well,” McIlroy said. “I can’t talk about my dad if I don’t talk about my mom. They both sacrificed a lot to help me, you know potentially get to the place where I am today, but there was no guarantee. I’m sure there’s a lot of little boys and girls out there and their parents have done the same thing for them and it hasn’t quite materialized the way they wanted to so I feel like I’m one of the lucky ones that had great parents who were unbelievably supportive. And then at the same time, I was able to take advantage of the opportunities that they’ve given me.”     

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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.