My most profound golf memory of 2022.
This is the time of year when people look back at the past 12 months and reflect on memories.
In my case, I will focus on the RBC Canadian Open. It was the first time the tournament took place in three years because COVID cancelled the previous two.
It was somewhat surreal attending a PGA Tour event about a 20-minute drive from where I live. The streets closest to the course were closed off – the very same streets I used to regularly drive down when visiting my in-laws, who lived down the street from the St. George’s Golf & Country Club.
I attended the final day and it was crazy parking my car on a street that wasn’t closed and then walking through a section cordoned off by showing my media pass. Just like that I’m walking among a mass of humanity.
I picked up my media pass the day before the tournament began when it wasn’t nearly as crowded, although the practice rounds were open to the public. I attended the press conference in which Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade TP5x) stated something profound that it may have been the quote of the year. Talking about some of the players who departed the PGA Tour for the greenbacks of LIV Golf, McIlroy talked about decisions made purely for money and said “it doesn’t usually end up going the right way.”
He admitted he had done that in his career.
I’ve been to enough press conferences in various sports to know that most of them are dull. For the most part professional athletes are guarded in what they say because social media can be relentless. Say the wrong thing and it can cost endorsements and sponsorships. Some pro sports have people who work with athletes to help them deal with the media.
That’s why when an athlete as prominent as McIlroy comes out with something so profound, people take notice. So seeing McIlroy say what he did and being in the room when he did it was something I found enlightening. The pent-up frustrations that he had been feeling being the target of LIV Golf clearly had come to the point when he felt comfortable firing back in public. I think it happened in the opening question of his press conference when he was asked about the elephant in the room. He talked about other things such as playing in a tournament as prestigious as the Canadian Open and being a golf nerd who looked at trophies he won with the names of some of the prominent players who preceded him.
McIlroy entered the tournament as the defending champion and it was clear from the final day that that there was appetite among golf fans to see the return of the event. There were people of all ages shouting for players, although McIlroy clearly had more fans than anyone else. The fact that McIlroy won it seemed the perfect result. It was also arguably the single biggest thing that became part of his procession to winning the final PGA Tour event of the season.
It was majestic.
And that’s why when I think back on 2022, the RBC Canadian Open sticks out first and foremost in my memories of watching and writing about golf.