Rory McIlroy tuned up for taking on anchored broomstick putter Adam Scott at this week’s Australian Open by enjoying the antics of an even more renowned anchorman, Ron Burgundy.
The two-time major champion, whose final shot at ending his winless 2013 season starts on Thursday at the Royal Sydney Golf Club, found himself sharing the same aisle with the star of "Anchorman" and the as-yet unreleased "Anchorman 2" on his flight to Australia.
Thanks to the randomness of their itineraries, McIlroy garnered a prized invite the premiere of Ferrell’s new film. The world’s sixth-ranked golfer gave cast and crew the full Ebert & Roeper treatment.
"It was very funny," McIlroy told Australian Open TV. "I think everyone loved the first 'Anchorman,' and the second was just as good."
While McIlroy was delighted to meet the former Saturday Night Live funny man and Tiger Woods impersonator, as well as co-stars Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, it’s the anchorman from Australia the Ulsterman will have to best on the playing field if he’s finally to end his season-long winless streak.
"Adam [Scott] is playing great golf this year and with two victories this month alone he will be a force to reckon with in Sydney," McIlroy told Bernie McGuire about the reigning U.S. Masters champ who, with a win this week to go with his Australian PGA and Masters titles, would earn the Aussie Grand Slam.
With an additional victory at the The Barclays on the PGA Tour, Scott, who famously turned his career around after switching from a conventional putter to a broomstick model he tethers to his chest, "is a tough opponent no matter where he plays," McIlroy said. "I expect him to contend in Royal Sydney."
This week’s event will be McIlroy’s first at the Down Under track since he played it as an amateur in 2006, when he scuffled to a tie for 51st place, according to ZeeNews. It’s also the second-to-last tourney of the year for the Ulsterman, who will also tee it up at Tiger Woods’ Northwestern Mutual World Challenge next week.
While the matter of winning his first tournament in 12 months remains an uncertainty, McIlroy at least got one off-course distraction out of the way. The 24-year-old from Northern Ireland settled a legal dispute with ex-sponsor Oakley.
"I am delighted the case is now behind me," McIlroy told Brian Keogh about the first of two court cases that have proved to unsettle the golfer.
Terms of the settlement of the litigation, in which Oakley charged McIlroy with breach of contract when he signed with Nike, were kept under wraps. With one down and one to go, McIlroy must still deal with a messy suit-countersuit situation with his former manager, Horizon Sports Management.
For the immediate future, though, McIlroy has his hands full with a sizzling Scott, who’s coming off a team victory with countryman Jason Day at last week’s ISPS Handa World Cup, as well as with Day, who, days after losing several relatives in the Philippines typhoon, won the individual portion of the event.
McIlroy noted that the way Scott rebounded from his collapse at Royal Lytham to become the first Australian to win at Augusta reminded him of his own Masters meltdown and subsequent U.S. Open bounce-back.
"Without doubt the 2012 Open Championship was a huge learning curve for Adam and the experience has made him stronger which will stand to him for the rest of his career," McIlroy said of Scott’s coughing up the lead in the finale and losing to Ernie Els.
"So in many ways it resembled my disappointment at the 2011 Masters and I’ve always looked back on that as a big positive in my career," McIlroy added. He referred to his record-breaking, eight-stroke route of the field at Congressional Country Club in 2011, just months after blowing his advantage at the Masters.
"You learn more from your mistakes sometimes, which we have both realized," McIlroy said.