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Grow up please, Rory

So reports suggest that Rory McIlroy is having his wisdom teeth removed in June. Or possibly sooner. Let’s hope every ounce of petulance in his body was stored in those self-same choppers. Because walking off last week at the Honda Classic was one of golf’s biggest no-no’s – and little short of a disgrace.

As was the vehement backing he received immediately after from the blatantly biased Sky Sports pundits.

It took him three media statements and six days to finally make a “genuine” apology for his decision to walk off the course. One feels he may have had some public relations experts weighing in during that time to help him salvage some face.

Bear in mind his first excuse was that “he wasn’t in the right place mentally” to continue; followed by the “citing severe toothache” spiel (even though he was pictured enjoying a sandwich just minutes earlier) he offered. So when he only comes out four days later to take it on the chin, it does make you wonder how sorry he really is.

For those who aren’t aware, McIlroy signed a contract believed to be worth an astonishing $200 million to become a Nike athlete. It also meant a change of clubs from the Titleist blades that earned him two majors and the No 1 ranking in the world.

Coincidentally, his form has dipped considerably since the change (and the windfall), and it culminated in his withdrawal on day one of the Honda Classic after dropping six strokes in his first eight holes, and finding the water at his ninth (he failed to complete the hole, or wait for his playing partners to do so before marching off to the car park).

Being as incredibly talented and successful as McIlroy unfortunately brings about huge responsibility, and at a time when a culture of petulance and self-indulgence - especially at amateur level - is at its peak, this was a significant setback for the sport. You only have to go to junior events to see parents living their lives vicariously through their kids. Buying them the best clubs, getting involved with every shot, and ultimately breeding a sense of entitlement in their youngsters.

It’s no wonder there are so many prima donnas coming through. These guys are made to feel like the centre of the universe. And it shows at professional level too. Given the number of professionals that are struggling on the Sunshine Tour, it’s remarkable how many expensive vehicles there are in the parking lot. Daddy’s buck?

I would suspect so. Of course, it’s not cheap to make it as a professional, and you need financial backing. But when it’s given to you, and not earned, self-absorption becomes rife.

I’m not suggesting McIlroy is a spoiled child like some of these other golfers. In truth, he actually seems like a pretty cool guy. But what he’s done could have serious and far-reaching ramifications. Next time these youngsters have a bad day, maybe they’ll just walk off too. “Rory did it, so why can’t I?”

Golf is a sport where you can cheat or defy the etiquette so easily, and not necessarily face the consequences. For example, they can’t fine McIlroy for walking off now. He was “in pain,” so technically he didn’t do anything wrong. But that is why etiquette and the spirit of the game are so sacred in golf. It is up to all of us as players to uphold the principles that (should) have been bred into us when we were first taught the game, and this is even more paramount for the world’s best player, who should be setting an example.

After all, everyone goes through slumps. Even Tiger Woods went through barren spells. McIlroy shouldn’t feel too sorry for himself, because he’ll bounce back very soon. He’s too extraordinary a player not to. And his swelling bank account should also provide some consolation.

So come on Rory, smile again. Don’t take yourself so seriously. And don’t disrespect the game that made you into a star. Rather be the star we all want to respect.

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