Masters Diary: Sir Alex on hand to keep media off McIlroy's back
Monday 13 April 2009
With clients in his agency of the calibre of Andrew Flintoff, Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke and Michael Vaughan, there are few managers to whom Chubby Chandler should need to defer when it comes to handling sporting superstars. But clearly there is one. Step forward, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Chandler has reportedly been to see the Manchester United manager to seek advice regarding the 19-year-old prodigy Rory McIlroy and that is understandable. Boy wonders are very much the rarity in golf, but when they have emerged, bad decisions have invariably hindered, and in some cases derailed, their progress. In certain respects Justin Rose is an example and then, of course, there is that victim of outrageous over-hype, Michelle Wie.
So who better to turn to in the effort to shield the pup from the glare than the man who so admirably guided fledglings such as Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes? McIlroy's uncle, Brian McIlroy, said: "Chubby is friends with Sir Alex and asked him his advice on how to handle all the interest surrounding Rory. Sir Alex said we should try to be open and straightforward with the media – that way there should be less pressure on him."
McIlroy was indeed that on Saturday evening when he explained to the media his part in the bunker rules rumpus which could have led to his qualification after the second round. Chandler stood to the side looking on approvingly as his young prodigy said all the right things. He must have wondered whether it was worth sending McIlroy to see Sir Alex. But, then, if you have an open invite to Carrington you may as well take advantage. Said Fergie: "I've never met the boy, but when I do I will be happy to pass on any help he might think he needs."
Player plays up for the cameras?
Chandler may have his work cut out, trying to keep a lid on the media frenzy after Gary Player described McIlroy's swing as "unbelievable" and "better than Tiger Woods".
The 73-year-old (below) has an agreeable habit of saying exactly what the listener wants to hear and the British and Irish microphones in front of him might just have had something to do with his gushings. "Rory McIlroy, if he goes about it and is managed correctly, could turn out to be the best player in the world in his time," Player said.
"This young man is brilliant. His golf swing is unbelievable and his theory side, his swing, is better than Tiger Woods'. But will he have the body of Tiger Woods? Will this young man go to the gym at six o'clock in the morning? I don't know. Will he have the intensity and all the other things that Tiger has? I don't know."
BBC's much ado about something
As someone who refuses to speak to the BBC, Sir Alex might have an interesting take on the displeasure apparently felt by some of the Rory camp towards the corporation. It was the BBC which first drew attention to the incident in the 18th bunker when McIlroy was accused in some quarters of kicking the sand, an offence that merits a two-shot penalty.
The BBC showed repeated replays and posted the clip on its website and it was this that led the rules committee here to make its interminably lengthy investigations, before accepting McIlroy's explanation that he had, in fact, only "smoothed" the sand. Did the BBC make too much fuss? To be fair, its analyst Sam Torrance comment said at the time that McIlroy should not be penalised.
Gary Lineker, meanwhile, had another take on it, claiming the officials should not take action because "he's only young". Ridiculous. As McIlroy would agree. If he is old enough to be here, he is old enough to be sent home.
Poulter out of tune with Augusta airs
Part of Ian Poulter's pre-round build-up is listening to dance music on his iPod. Not at Augusta it isn't. There the Englishman was, on the practice green in the shadow of the clubhouse, earphones plugged in, drum and bass blaring. It was then that a man in a green jacket walked across, tapped him on the shoulder and signalled to turn off the sounds. Poulter quickly followed the orders, as everyone tends to around here.
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