Rory McIlroy: Success in golf is your name on trophies the greats have won

World No 2 stresses necessity for global approach to elite golf after fourth victory at Dubai Desert Classic

As conjecture swirled around the Emirates Club about precisely how many tens of millions Tommy Fleetwood or Tyrrell Hatton could make if they accept the overtures of LIV, Rory McIlroy once again supplied the antidote.

The vulgarities of money have dominated and distorted golf since Saudi Arabia challenged the status quo. The image of McIlory alongside his parents, Rosie and Gerry, in celebration of a fourth Dubai Desert Classic victory, 15 years after the same family pose for his first, was endearing. So too was McIlroy’s erudite answer when a question over the meaning of history and legacy in golf was put to him.

“Everything,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s the only way to be able to compare yourself to the people you grew up idolising. My hero was Tiger Woods. I wanted to do what Tiger did. I’ll probably not have the career that he’s had but I still look at the trophies that I’ve won and my name is on those same trophies that his are on. I don’t know a better way of quantifying success in the game as putting your name on the trophies that the people before you have put their names on.”

Two things are worth noting here. McIlroy is of course crazily wealthy; he merely has a greater handle on the value of money versus relationships than many of his peers. Even more intriguing is the extent to which McIlroy, whose school time was curtailed due to time spent on a golf course, has educated himself both in academic terms and about his sport. So many others simply do not care.


McIlroy had spoken about the necessity for a global approach to elite golf in the lead-up to his successful Dubai defence. “Something like the Australian Open,” he added. “I’m looking at the Stonehaven Cup and my name is on there with Peter Thomson and all the legends of the game. I think it’s a very cool thing.

“Michael Thorbjornsen has just won for the second time as the top amateur here. Hopefully in 15, 20 years’ time, he’s looking at the trophies that my name is on.

“I just think that the generation span is so long in golf. I’ve played in the US Open with Tom Watson but I’ve also played in a US Open with Rasmus Højgaard, who is 50 years younger than Tom Watson.

“The generations and length of time that you can be a pro and you can have success in golf ... I think it’s amazing to think about the journey and to think about the players that you’ve played with; at the start of my career, and then the players that I’m playing with now, and just the length of time that all of those careers have spanned.”

McIlroy correlates the “arc” of his timeline with events in Dubai. As a wide-eyed teenager, he used a media credential to watch Woods, Ernie Els and Thomas Björn from inside the ropes at the Desert Classic. He first played in the event in 2006.

“Even just thinking about that, Thomas Björn becomes my Ryder Cup captain; I ended up buying Ernie Els’s house; I’ve become really good friends with Tiger Woods,” McIlroy said. “It’s just amazing to think back on the last 18 years and sort of where I find myself. I certainly don’t take anything for granted, and I always appreciate the opportunity to be able to do what I do. It feels amazing to sit here and have won that big coffee pot four times.” – Guardian