Rory McIlroy takes most criticism on the chin but he sent a clear message to Johnny Miller and Brandel Chamblee by revealing that his “pet peeve” is people criticising his gym regime.
“I don’t know if any criticism is unfair,” he said when asked what criticism he's received over the last year had been the most unfair. “But when people make judgements or criticisms without being educated on the subject they are criticising — me getting in the gym, that’s my pet peeve.
"Someone who says you are in the gym too much. The reason I play at such a high level and hopefully will continue to play at a high level for the next 10 or 15 years is because of the work I did in the gym."
Defending his trainer, Steve McGregor, McIlroy added: "If I wasn’t in the gym, I wouldn’t be here sitting today. It’s a big part of who I am, it is a big part of my success. So that’s always an unfair criticism.
"But with my game, the critics and analysts that are out there are educated about golf. They, for the most part, know what they are talking about.
“Anything, a criticism of my golf game, I take it and I know what I need to work on and sometimes, those people point out the obvious but for the most part the most unfair criticism I receive is for what I do in the gym.”
Golf Channel analyst Chamblee said in February that he had concerns that Rory McIlroy could go down the same “destructive” route as Tiger Woods.
“I say it with a lot of trepidation, because it’s a different era for sure and I don’t know the full extent of what he’s doing, but when I see the things he’s doing in the gym, I think of what happened to Tiger Woods. And I think more than anything of what Tiger Woods did early in his career with his game was just an example of how good a human being can be, what he did towards the middle and end of his career is an example to be wary of. That’s just my opinion. And it does give me a little concern when I see the extensive weightlifting that Rory is doing in the gym.”
“Thus far,” he added, “there’s been no signs that it’s adversely affected his game.”
McIlroy’s reply was to tweet a videos of himself lifting huge weights.
Then the following day at the Northern Trust Open he was asked whether he had done any squats prior to the day’s pro-am.
"Not yet. I'm planning to, though," McIlroy said. "Maybe with Brandel on my back."
Back in July, former Open and US Open champion Miller watched McIlroy miss a string of putts in the Open and blamed the gym for a lack of touch.
Miller said: “I think he overdid the weight room, I don’t that helped him at all. Same thing with Tiger Woods. You just get carried away with wearing the tight shirts and showing off their muscles.”