Ireland's golfing 2012 in quotes - Part III

Rory McIlroy’s eight-shot win in the US PGA at Kiawah Island was the highlight of the Irish golfing year. Picture Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.ieThe Ryder Cup was truly memorable but Rory McIlroy’s eight-shot win in the US PGA at Kiawah Island will go down as the highlight of a wonderful summer that was not without its moments of controversy.

July

“You might think I am the form card but we are all going to have our own little demons out there tomorrow and the guy who manages it is going to be the guy who wins.”

Pádraig Harrington on the eve of the final round of the Irish Open. Welshman Jamie Donaldson walked away with his first European Tour win. Harrington was seventh.

 

“I needed to step away, because you can’t do anything behind somebody’s back and you can’t be committed to something unless everybody’s committed to something.”

Pádraig Harrington reflects on the reasons why he split with coach Bob Torrance 12 months earlier.

 

“On the basis of those figures alone, it’s inconceivable to think we won’t be back to the North in the not too distant future.”

George O’Grady on the cumulative attendance of 112,280 for the four tournament days of this year’s Irish Open - a European Tour record.

 

“I was walking 20 yards ahead of the three of them when Rory shouted: ‘Oi! Where’s your Major?’ It was tongue and cheek, but don’t worry, I let them know where it was on the Sunday evening.”

Darren Clarke reflects on his year as Champion Golfer.

 

“I was seriously impressed. It was my first time playing with Tiger Woods. He was awesome. He just ripped it.”

Darren Clarke recalls Tiger Woods taking the amateur medal at Royal Lytham in 1996.

 

“I got £600 and I was staying in a B&B in Blackpool. One of the reasons why I lost money was I had to bail my caddie out of jail on Saturday night.”

Coach Pete Cowen will never forget finishing 36th behind Seve Ballesteros in the 1979 Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

Ernie Els claimed his fourth major with victory in 2012 Open Championship. 

“It will show people I am not a one-hit wonder and it will prove to myself I can win a number of them, and it would be nice to get off that number a few guys are stuck on, and then to be able to call myself a multiple Major winner.”

Rory McIlroy on what it would mean to win a second Major.

 

“A huge amount of money would need to be spent, in my estimation, to make Royal Portrush a sensible choice. That’s not a criticism of Royal Portrush; it’s a wonderful golf course. But the commercial aspects of it are quite onerous.  And obviously The R&A would need to be sorting those things out as well as just simply the logistics of the whole affair. It’s going to take some time to come to a view, and the view may be no.”

R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson all but kills off Royal Portrush’s hopes of getting the Open for a second time.

 

“It’s the biggest little city in America. Here I come, Reno-Tahoe.”

Pádraig Harrington puts on a brave face and heads for Reno after failing to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational through the world’s top 50.

 

“Put it this way. If someone invented the belly putter or the long putter tomorrow, there’s no way they’d let it through.”

Pádraig Harrington calls for the R&A to ban the long putter - again.

 

“If it doesn’t happen over the next couple of weeks, no big deal.  It’s a 20-year career, so I’m not going to get too wound up just over a few weeks.  I’ve got to keep working away, plugging away, working hard and working on the right things and eventually it will come around.”

Rory McIlroy keeps things in perspective after finishing 60th in the Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

 

“No, I’m not splattered on the floor right now in disappointment. I’m just a little frustrated that I got off to flat starts both times now in the last rounds of majors. Like I say, I’ll address some scenarios that I feel I can do better. But I’m taking the positives away. I’m not beat up at all right now. I’m disappointed, yes. But I’m fine. I guess my disappointment kind of seems relatively stupid in relation to the guy  I’ve just seen a guy lose The Open Championship. No, I’ll take the positives away and I’ll be back.”

Graeme McDowell sums up his final round 75 and his share of fifth behind Ernie Els in The Open.

 

“The 2013 Irish Amateur Close Championship will take place at its scheduled venue of Connemara from Saturday June 8 to Wednesday June 12, with stroke play qualifying on Saturday and Sunday and then Match Play rounds of 64, 32, 16, 8, 4 and 2 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.”

After a two-year experiment with strokeplay in May, the GUI announces that the Irish Close will revert to matchplay in June 2013. 

 

“There’s no doubt, all the travelling is wearing him down a little bit and we are seeing a little bit of fatigue. But he’s a fit kid and he’s a young kid and he has all the talent in the world. It is only a matter of time [before he comes back]… Yes, his performances in the big events this year have not be really up to his standard. But he is going through a little bit of a voyage of discovery right now - for all the right reasons. He’s very happy with his personal life and Caroline is a great girl. He will be okay.”

Graeme McDowell on Rory McIlroy’s “mini-slump”

August

“It’s just relief, joy and tiredness, the whole lot. I’m absolutely exhausted.”

Pat Murray following his long-awaited victory in the South of Ireland at Lahinch, where he had lost seven semi-finals.

Pat Murray with the South of Ireland trophy 

“Yeah, well, I kind of take the attitude that don’t play with Dan. That would be the best tip.”

Pádraig Harrington is asked in Reno if he’s had any poker playing tips from distant cousin Dan Harrington, a former world champion.

 

“It is now up to me as the independent promotor of the Ladies Irish Open going forward to come up with a sustainable solution for this tournament.”

Tournament promoter Roddy Carr on the future of the Ladies Irish Open without sponsorship from AIB and Fáilte Ireland.

 

“I was just re-living the hole as I’d sunk a really long putt for par. As soon as I realised what had happened, I went to the club.”

Michael Hoey disqualifies himself at the US PGA.

 

“When he gets it going, it’s pretty impressive to watch.”

Even Tiger is impressed by McIlroy.

 

“If Rory is playing as well as he is, Tiger’s not going to pick a major off unless he’s got his A Game out there.”

According to Pádraig Harrington, Tiger Woods has his work cut out with Rory McIlroy around.

 

“He strikes me more as a Tom Watson or a Jack Nicklaus. They took their success as it came, enjoyed it, but it wasn’t life or death stuff.”

Des Smyth on Rory McIlroy’s laid-back attitude.

 

“That was a day when quite a few guys shot 80. And he was out there in the worst of it.”

Nick Faldo on the importance of McIlroy’s second round 75 at Kiawah Island.

 

“Whenever it clicks, it’s hard for anyone else to live with.”

US PGA champion Rory McIlroy knows he’s untouchable when he’s on form.

 

“I definitely think golf is in a transition period at the minute… I feel like the gap between the No 1 player in the world and the 100th player in the world has gotten very small.”

McIlroy plays down talk of the “Rory Era”.

 

“He wouldn’t be a sure pick for me!”

Sergio García says out loud what many were thinking about Harrington’s hopes of a Ryder Cup wildcard.

 

“If that was the case, I would be failing as a captain. So that is a lot of b.s. That’s putting it gently.”

José María Olazábal reacts angrily to suggestions that he has a vendetta against Pádraig Harrington.

 

“He is an experienced player, obviously. But at the moment he has not been able to deliver. Period. Simple as that.”

José Maria Olazábal on Harrington.

 

“The dogs in the street knew I wasn’t getting a pick.”

Pádraig Harrington wasn’t surprised in the slightest that he didn’t get a Ryder Cup wildcard from José María Olazábal.

September

“Rhys was three up with four to play, Alan was one up with two to play. You’d fancy your chances with that, wouldn’t you?”

Great Britain and Ireland skipper Nigel Edwards was bitterly disappointed to lose the St Andrews Trophy at Portmarnock.

 

“Every time Caroline comes to a tournament I usually win, so I have to get her out here a bit more often.”

Rory McIlroy wins the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston with La Wozniacki looking on.

 

“I never really thought about (winning six times before my 24th birthday). I just went out to play as well as I could and I knew if I played to the best of my ability I would win events.”

Back-to-back. McIlroy claims the BMW Championship for his sixth PGA Tour win in just 53 starts.

 

“What makes it such an awful position to be in is I have grown up my whole life playing for Ireland under the Golfing Union of Ireland umbrella. But the fact is, I’ve always felt more British than Irish. Maybe it is the way I was brought up, I don’t know, but I have always felt more of a connection with the UK than with Ireland. And so I have to weigh that up against the fact that I have always played for Ireland and so it is tough. Whatever I do, I know my decision is going to upset some people but I hope the vast majority will understand.”

Rory McIlroy lands himself in a spot of bother with this revelation in the Daily Mail

 

“Having just won three of my last four tournaments, including a second Major championship, I was hoping that my success on the golf course would be the more popular topic of golfing conversation today. However the issue of my cultural identity has re-emerged, and with it, the matter of my national allegiance ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016.

“I am in an extremely sensitive and difficult position and I conveyed as much in a recent newspaper interview. I am a proud product of Irish golf and the Golfing Union of Ireland and am hugely honoured to have come from very rich Irish sporting roots, winning Irish Boys, Youths and Amateur titles and playing for Ireland at all levels. I am also a proud Ulsterman who grew up in Northern Ireland which is part of the United Kingdom. That is my background and always will be.”

McIlroy feels obliged to clarify his position on the Olympics and his cultural identity in an “Open Letter”

 

“I don’t see how we can lay claim to people from Northern Ireland.”

Des Smyth weighs in on the identity debate.

 

“Tiger was paranormal before and now he has gone back to being just a normal, very very good golfer.”

Nick Faldo on Woods’ struggles with confidence and the emergence of McIlroy.

 

“I said it earlier in the year, half joking. We haven’t had a tie or a draw for years. When you look at the two teams on paper, in theory there is going to be a point either way, isn’t there? They are so evenly matched.”

Faldo predicts a tie in the Ryder Cup. But for Tiger’s three-putt against Molinari….

 

“No, how can I intimidate Tiger Woods?  I mean, the guy’s got 75 or 70‑whatever PGA TOUR wins, 14 majors.  I mean, he’s been the biggest thing ever in our sport.”

Rory McIlroy jokes that Woods now calls him The Intimidator following Greg Norman’s suggestion that Tiger is afraid of the Ulsterman.

 

“It just hit home with me at how my success is welcomed by everyone.  It would be terrible for me to nearly segregate myself from one of those group that supports me so much.  So as I said in my letter last week, it’s four years away.  I still have a bit of time to decide.”

Rory McIlroy addresses the controversial issue of identity again.

Rory McIlroy’s Northern Ireland home went on the market for £2.5m 

“This is purely a practical and a commercial decision, there were no security issues whatsoever.”

Horizon Sports Management’s Conor Ridge on Rory McIlroy’s decision to sell his Northern Ireland home.

 

“I’m a little disappointed but at the same time, Brandt really deserves to win. If you look at his stats the whole way throughout the week, he played the best golf out of anyone.”

Despite winning two of the four playoff events, Rory McIlroy finishes second in the FedEx Cup. Later he admits he felt a little hard done by.

 

“We are all good friends, both sides of the pond.  But there’s something about Ryder Cup which kind of intrigues me - how you can be great mates with somebody, but, boy, do you want to kill them in Ryder Cup.”

Ian Poulter on what makes the Ryder Cup so special.

 

“I’m going to try to beat their brains in as bad as I can.”

US rookie Brandt Snedeker shows his competitive side at Medinah.

Medinah on Sunday - seven days before the “miracle” 

 “There’s no need to overcomplicate things with tactics and trying to outsmart the Americans because there’s always a chance you’ll end up outsmarting yourself.”

Paul McGinley on the European Ryder Cup “template”.  

 

“Unless there’s a draft I’m probably not going to be in the military.  So for me it’s the one chance I get to represent our country and hopefully represent our country well.”

Masters champion Bubba Watson on the motivational powers of the American flag.

 

“Now I can’t make you do it. You gotta look at the guy next to you. Look into his eyes.”

Al Pacino’s Any Given Sunday speech was used in a motivational video prepared by Ryder Cup captain José María Olazábal

 

“The silence was deafening, and it made my mind go blank. It was very strange. Didn’t put a very nice swing on it after that.”

Graeme McDowell on hitting the opening tee shot at the Ryder Cup - a nervy snap hook into the trees.

 

 “He has got a very fancy watch, maybe he should have used it. It is unbelievable to think that the world number one cannot just sleep in but watch a programme and think it’s Eastern time and not Central. Not to hit a shot before the first tee is just ridiculous.”

Sky Sports pundit Colin Montgomerie on McIlroy’s late arrival on Sunday morning.

Rory McIlroy leaps out of a police car on Sunday morning at Medinah, just 11 minutes before his tee time. 

“Then I got a phone call from Conor (Ridge), my manager, saying, ‘Are you are the golf course yet?’  And I was saying, ‘No I’m not.’ And he was saying, ‘You are teeing off in 25 minutes.’  And I was, ‘No I’m not. I’m teeing off in an hour and 25.’  And he said, ‘No you’re not.’ And then he said, ‘Rory, are you taking the piss?’ And I was, ‘No, I’m not at the golf course.’  And he said, ‘Well you’d better get there.’”

Rory McIlroy on those panic-stricken moments when he realised he might miss his singles tee-time. 

 

“I said ‘Ollie, we’re four points behind, we’ve been battered for two days, if Seve is in heaven and he’s trying to write a script, sitting with the best Hollywood scriptwriter, and he was asked what way do you want Ollie to win a Ryder Cup, it would be that for two days you get battered, blitzed by birdies and good golf, and your team hangs on by the skin of its teeth. Just hangs on. And you get a character like Poulter being the main guy, that just keeps you within touching distance. Then you come strong and win in the last match. That’s what he’d write and maybe that’s what our script is today.’”

European vice-captain Paul McGinley on the Miracle of Medinah.

 

“He’s like an actor getting into character – he puts on a costume and turns into this guy.”

McGinley on Ian Poulter’s incredible Ryder Cup persona.