Tiger Woods has apparently taken some twitting from girlfriend Lindsey Vonn about his sporadic Twitter habits, but Woods’ close pal, Rory McIlroy, may serve as a 21st-century cautionary tale to the world’s No. 1.
McIlroy began the 2013 season with the world at his beck and call, the top ranking, an apparently storybook romance with a telegenic tennis champion, and the stars aligned for the two-time major winner to pound out another terrific campaign.
But all did not go as planned for the talented 24-year-old from Northern Ireland, who, with great hoopla, changed golf gear to start the year and immediately went into a somersault down the world rankings ladder. Along the way, McIlroy’s game, which went south as soon as he made the wholesale switch to Nike, came under intense inspection, with Nick Faldo and Johnny Miller leading the barrage of brickbats aimed at the stumbling superstar.
The CSI: Hollywood treatment of his game was certainly tough to take, an exhausted and dispirited McIlroy conceded to Brian Keogh after Sunday’s lackluster 11th (out of 18) finish at Woods’ Northwestern Mutual World Challenge.
"It’s been the first year where I have really had to put up with the scrutiny and criticism and I guess you just have to believe in what you are doing and not let it get to you too much," McIlroy said before departing California for his Florida home with Caroline Wozniacki.
"I let it get to me a couple of times this year and it’s sort of a tough -- not a tough position to be in, that’s not the right word -- but it was a challenge for sure."
While the Miller/Faldo free-for-all, with a bit of Gary Player pontificating as well, was aggravating, what really vexed McIlroy was the ongoing gossip about his life outside the ropes, including the probing into his business affairs and, particularly, the TMZ-like intrusion into his relationship with Wozniacki.
"My private life is private and I would like to keep it that way," McIlroy, who opened his relationship to the public by posting photos of Wozniacki and himself on Twitter and frequently typing about their jet-setting between each other’s events, said back in October in South Korea.
He repeated his complaints to Keogh on Sunday.
"I don’t care what people say about my golf, it’s all the other stuff. When they start digging into your personal life, start digging into that, then that’s where it starts to annoy you," McIlroy acknowledged. "Whether it is Caroline, whether it is management companies, it shouldn’t really be as a consequence as to how I play my golf. That gets at me more than anything else."
So where is Tiger in all of this, other than in the middle of golf, all of which revolves around its most exalted/popular/divisive/controversial (all of the above?) figure? Essentially maintaining, until very recently, almost total Twitter silence, which may bore his 3.7 million followers, but may turn out to be the way for the notoriously guarded Woods to roll in today’s 24/7 news-cycle environment in which every little tweet has the potential to go viral.
Sounding like a geezer well beyond his years, Woods may have picked up the lingo of the social media-savvy but he has yet to go all in, as Vonn has apparently urged.
"She certainly has hinted that, but I grew up in a different era and it's a little bit different for me," Woods, who will be 38 later this month, said before last week’s tilt at Sherwood CC, where he shockingly coughed up a four-shot lead with eight holes to go and lost to Zach Johnson in a playoff. "I'm still a little bit old school. I'm kind of getting towards it, but still not quite grasping the whole concept yet."
Which brings us back to McIlroy, whose frequent Twitter blasts about cheering on Wozniacki in tennis matches throughout the world, lush vacations with his main squeeze, and emoting hugs and kisses to his valentine put out a virtual welcome mat to the world.
Watching my girl play in Dubai before starting my day in Arizona pic.twitter.com/NHySc2U2— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) February 19, 2013
Made it to Miami, looking forward to seeing @CaroWozniacki after her great tournament in Indian Wells! Hopefully another good one coming up!— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) March 18, 2013
Keogh opined that McIlroy was "still in denial" about how his stature as a global icon amasses keen interest in "his every move," though the golf-playing half of the ickily self-named power duo Wozzilroy gave his tweeting finger a bit of a break as observers wondered recently if the couple had split.
There’s no clear solution to the "to Tweet or not to Tweet" conundrum for worldwide A-listers, who afford strangers quick, web-based glimpses into their lives. If Tiger -- certainly no stranger to the loss of privacy that comes with global superstardom -- has paid attention to Rory’s life as a social media devotee, however, chances are the Twitter-verse won’t be hearing a whole lot from him in the near future.
Or will it? Woods, who has typed out some 300 messages of 140 characters or fewer in the four-and-a-half years since his "Hello World" to cyberspace, allowed last week that he was cautiously working his way toward Twitter-literacy.
Welcome to my new Twitter page at: www.twitter.com/TigerWoods— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) June 26, 2009
"I'll get there eventually," he said.