Northern Irish golf star on the rise Rory McIlroy is making it clear that while golf is indeed a big part of his life, he refuses to let it run his life and is dedicated to finding a healthy balance.
Golf writer for the Associated Press Doug Ferguson caught up with the golf ace in Charlotte, North Carolina this week. Ferguson writes how McIlroy has taken a well-deserved break from hitting the course since his appearance at the Masters in Florida.
McIlroy is taking some rest before gearing for a busy summer schedule. He’ll be attending the Wells Fargo Championship, which will only be his second tournament in two months.
"For me, there's more to life than just golf," McIlroy said Wednesday. "I don't know if people are surprised to hear that, but I have a lot going on in my life than just golf."
McIlroy, who will be turning only 23 this week, is becoming increasingly international. He was in Germany recently to watch tennis-pro girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, and brought her home to Holywood in County Down on a whim. He even had occasion to chat with the Queen of England during a horse race at Newbury.
But McIlroy is also dedicated to giving back. Upon arriving at Quail Hollow this week, he made time to film a video promo for the PGA Tour and its support of the St. Jude's Children Hospital, despite not competing in the upcoming St. Jude Classic.
McIlroy, alongside two-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, filmed with 7 year old Dawson, a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy with St. Jude’s. McIlroy also did an outreach with when he travelled to Haiti last year with UNICEF.
"If I'm going to do anything like that, I want it to be with kids, because I feel like I can relate to them a little bit better than anything else," McIlroy said. "To see someone go through what he's [Dawson’s] going through, and to have all this positivity coming out of him, it just makes you realize how lucky and how fortunate we are. I know if I was going through an illness like what Dawson has, I don't know if I would be as bright as and as happy and as cheery as he is. It's definitely inspiring to see."
Conor Ridge, McIlroy’s agent at Horizon Sports Management, was impressed with McIlroy at the St. Jude’s promo shoot. “Watching him react with Dawson was unreal," Ridge said. "You forget how young Rory is."
Young or not, McIlroy still has a title to defend. This spring alone has seen McIlroy reach number 1 in the world twice.
"It would be nice to assert my authority in that No. 1 position and keep it for a while," McIlroy said about his upcoming PGA Tour event at Quail Hollow, the same place where McIlroy won his first PGA Tour event in 2010.
McIlroy is gearing up now for a busy summer schedule.
"Basically, the most important time for me in the golf season is from the start of April until the end of August. That's when all the big tournaments are and that's when you want to play your best golf," McIlroy said. "All the stuff either side of that is more preparation work and making sure that your game is getting ready and your body is physically ready for that time of the year.
"I've got a busy stretch coming up now," he said. "I know I've been criticized a little bit for not playing as much as some other guys leading into these few weeks, but I know I've got a big stretch coming up, and I want to be as fresh as possible for this."