He’s a world number one and NI’s national treasure but despite the fame and fortune Rory McIlroy’s feet are still firmly on the ground.
Edition 247: What is it that you love about Northern Ireland?
Rory: Mostly, it’s the weather I love…! Northern Ireland is home, and always will be. Travelling around the world as much as I do makes coming back to family and friends feel new to me. It’s the familiar feel of home that I really look forward to.
Edition 247: Can you see yourself ever settling anywhere else?
Rory: I’ll always have a place at home – home’s home, right? I stay as often as I can when on a break or playing golf around Europe. I do have a place in Florida, too, and I suppose I do all it my home from home. It’s only natural that I have a place in the US because it is where I play most of my golf. While I continue to play golf for a living, I’ll need both.
Edition 247: Your success has brought with it the pressure of a life under the spotlight – is that difficult to deal with?
Rory: It all comes with the territory, really. I’ve grown up being recognised and I’m now used to my golfing life being in the press most days. Even when I’m home, I’ve really no problems with a few people coming over to me for an autograph or a picture. It’s all innocent stuff, and I enjoy the banter, too.
Edition 247: You’re in top shape at the minute and obviously take your fitness very seriously, there has been some criticism about this (mainly from older golfers) – how would you respond?
Rory: Golf and fitness are one in the same to me – they are not the separate entities in my preparation or practice. It’s perhaps not a big thing for every golfer, young or old, but I just feel that if I stay fit, it will help to extend my career. I also swing the golf club at high speed, so I need to have strength and balance to allow for this.
Edition 247: How do you enjoy a day off?
Rory: I’m very good at switching off from my golfing routine. I can quite easily lie around on my settee doing very little. Then, if I’m feeling a little more energetic, I might go to the cinema or go and do a bit of shopping…
Edition 247: Golf aside what other sports do you follow?
Rory: I’m a big fan of loads of sports – always have been. I follow football and rugby, and when I’m home I’ll go and watch United play or go to an Ulster Rugby game. Since I moved to the US, a few years back, I’ve also really started to get into basketball and NFL.
Edition 247: For such a small country NI has produced some of the greatest golfer’s – what’s our secret?
Rory: There’s something in our water! We really do punch above our weight, and it’s a lot to do with access to some of the world’s finest golf courses. I believe our teaching professionals are some of the best around, too, and today’s young people coming through – boys and girls – are getting great advice and direction. We’ve even had another youth world golf champion this summer from Northern Ireland – we’re taking over!
Picture credit: Nike