Belfast Telegraph

This story of young Rory will leave a lump in throat of every viewer

By John Laverty

The washing machine had to be in there.

It's as integral to the Rory McIlroy story as the Masters Meltdown, the jaw-dropping Father's Day performance at Congressional, Holly, the Ryder Cup lie-in, Wozzilroy... and, of course, the signing of one of the most lucrative sponsorship deals in sports history.

Nike have wagered an eye-watering £80m on our golfing genius staying on top of his game for the next decade.

But it's the embryonic McIlroy years they have invested in this time, courtesy of a touching, beautifully-made but mercifully saccharine-free video (or 'advert', for those non-romantics out there).

I don't need to inform you that this particular short story has already gone viral; after all, the recent clip of an incandescent Rory chucking his three-iron into the water during the WGC-Cadillac Championship almost broke the PGA tour website with 250,000 hits in the first two hours.

Everyone knows, of course, that Tiger Woods (before his Icarus-like plunge) was the fledgling Rory's inspiration, the motivation behind those countless chipped shots, initially into Rosie McIlroy's washing machine and then onto the Holywood greens, the ambition so powerfully articulated that his struggling parents spent every spare penny on their very own Tiger cub.

They even bought him a rather expensive Nike cap ("it has to be Nike, Dad; that's what Woods wears...")

A futher irony: one of the first things that brought the metronomic Tiger and his meticulous, relentless pursuit of major golf championships to the attention of the pre-teen Rory was a 1996 advert for... Nike.

It begins with a young black boy pronouncing "I am Tiger Woods". Then an Asian girl says the same thing and then... well, we've all seen Spartacus.

Now, it's McIlroy himself who is providing the inspiration for millions of rapt, wide-eyed wannabes watching 'Ripple'.

And the golf shoe is on the other foot with Rory realising what many (but not him) believed to be an impossible aspiration; becoming the world's number one golfer... and at the expense of his boyhood hero, who will limp into Augusta this week as a token sideshow to the McIlroy circus.

Of course, the 'Ripple' ad doesn't infer that Rory has actually eclipsed the wounded Tiger; after all, the latter remains a Nike cash cow himself.

Behind the tear-stained sentimentality, there's always ruthless commercialism. Rory learned that in record time as well.

Belfast Telegraph


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