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Lunch With Rory McIlroy

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA | It seems Rory McIlroy should be older than 25 because it feels as if we’ve known him for so long.
He’s already been ranked No. 1 in the world, won two major championships by eight strokes, kicked one Masters away and endured the inevitable rise-and-fall syndrome that comes with immense stardom, emerging from a bruising 2013 with his smile intact and a wedding in his future.
Three days before his 25th birthday and just off the golf course after the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship, McIlroy sat down for lunch with me in the grillroom in the back corner of the men’s locker room at the Quail Hollow Club.
It’s a room framed by dark wood and three flat-screen televisions mounted on one wall. Four years ago, McIlroy stood a few yards away between a row of tall wooden lockers, talking to his parents at home in Northern Ireland where it was nearly midnight, celebrating his first PGA Tour victory after a final-round 62 to win the Quail Hollow Championship.
“It’s definitely one of the best phone calls ever,“ McIlroy says.
McIlroy grazes his way through the players’ lunch offerings. When he sits down at end of a long table, McIlroy has a spinach salad on one plate and small portions of pasta with red sauce, tuna salad and bitesized pieces of a deli sandwich on another.
McIlroy came to Charlotte after four days at home alone in Palm Beach, Fla. His fiancée, tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, was in Europe pursuing her career.
“I just called her. She’s in Madrid. I’m here,“ McIlroy said, digging into his pasta. “Any time I have I want to be with her or want to speak with her.“
What does Rory McIlroy do when he’s home alone?
He tried to make himself dinner (McIlroy shakes his head as he says it) but generally picked something up to bring home. He practiced, got in some gym time and spent the rest of his time watching the NBA playoffs or playing with the PlayStation 4 he got for Christmas.
“I just do the normal things anyone else does,“ McIlroy says.
For all of his fame, fortune and time zonehopping lifestyle, there’s an approachability about McIlroy. Some stars project walls even when there are none. McIlroy doesn’t.
He seemed to pull in his personality last year when his game suffered and he was criticized for his big-money jump to Nike. It didn’t fit him.


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