Rory McIlroy, And Why His Masters Meltdown Finally Makes Sense

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 10: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his second shot on the first hole during the final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Before Rory McIlroy could triumph at the 2011 U.S. Open, he fell apart at the 2011 Masters. But how did it happen? Two words: Crazy girlfriend. Plus: Ricky Rubio, Little League baseball, the city of champions, and a tribute to Roy from West Texas. Talking Points is a daily series that highlights some of the best stories in sports (and elsewhere). Read the archives here.

Before Rory McIlroy could triumph at the 2011 U.S. Open, he fell apart at the 2011 Masters. At the time, it was one of the more spectacular Sunday collapses we've seen in years, prompting some to write essays on the nature of human frailty, and others to cringe and hope he could somehow recover.

A few months later, he's recovered, and the following story is more funny than tragic. Whatever career track the Masters meltdown may have disrupted is back underway, and Rory McIlroy is once again the next big superstar in golf. In the end, a spectacular collapse set him up for an even more spectacular recovery at the Open. But what about that day at the Masters?

What happened? Where did it all go wrong? Why?

Well, there was this: a few months after breaking up with his high school girlfriend, with Rory set to win the biggest tournament of his life at Augusta, his ex-girlfriend decided to join the festivities. I heard about it on Bomani Jones' radio show this morning, and turns out it's 100 percent true.

Somehow, we never heard about this, but as the Belfast Telegraph reported back in April:

Rory McIlroy’s life took another bizarre twist at the Masters after former girlfriend Holly Sweeney turned up out of the blue. She came to congratulate him on his win. ... Unknown to McIlroy, or indeed to anyone outside his management company, Holly had secretly rushed over from Holywood [Ed. note: Hollywood, Ireland] to surprise him on the 18th green at the conclusion of the season's opening Major. It was supposed to be a fantastic celebration, a joyous snapshot to go around the world.

You will hear a lot crazy ex-girlfriend stories, but none more brutal than that. Nothing like showing up unannounced on the biggest day of a guy's life to distract him and (ultimately) spark one of the most spectacular national TV collapses we've seen in years.

Here's how it probably played out in Augusta.

Holly: "Surprise!"

Rory: [speechless]

Rory: [30 seconds later] "Hey ..."

Holly: "That's all you have to say? I flew 3,000 miles for you."

Rory: [nervous laughter] "Yeah, you really flew over, huh?"

Holly: "What's that supposed to mean? Aren't you happy to see me?"

Rory: [sweating] "Of course!" [hugs her] [glances at his agent, expecting him to do something]

Holly: "I knew it." [starts crying] "I know we've been separated, but I knew you'd want me here."

Rory: [stammers] "Of course. I've gotta go play, but I'll see you after, okay?"

Holly: [staring into his eyes] "Perfect."

Rory: [unable to make eye contact] "Perfect."

Back when Rory collapsed in April, ESPN's Jeff MacGregor waxed poetic over the spectacle, writing that failure is huamnity's natural reflex. "... to call what happened to Rory McIlroy a collapse is to miss the larger point of the human experiment." It turns out he was right.

Not about failure, but about the whole human experiment. If there's one thing we've learned over the years, it's that the powers of a crazy ex-girlfriend know no bounds. The Masters meltdown makes perfect sense, then. Rory didn't crack under the pressure; he cracked because he spent his final round glancing over his shoulder. That's completely normal, given the circumstances. World-class golfer or not, a crazy ex can take anyone in the whole world off their game. Just ask Tiger.


That picture will never not make me physically uncomfortable.

With that, let's get into another edition of Talking Points...


Welcome To America, Ricky Rubio! Ricky Rubio is still 20 years old and hasn't even played a game in the NBA, and the experience has already exceeded expectations. The back-and-forth from Wolves fans and NBA scouts, the posturing from David Kahn, and then there was today's hero's welcome at the Minneapolis airport, where he was treated like an honest-to-God Beatle. Someone should really be making this into a documentary.

Now there's this:


Is he saying he's impressed, or impressive? Either way, having commentary from the man himself will only make the soap opera more hilarious as we go forward. Can't wait to see what happens next.


Long Island Moms Take Little League Pretty, Pretty Seriously. Seriously though.


Kevin Durant Is Still Awesome, In Case You Wondered. From a L.A. summer league:


A Vancouver Rioter Speaks Out. Here, one of the rioters from last week's insanity takes to the Vancouver Sun to explain himself. He begins like this:

On Wednesday night I went to Vancouver to join the thousands of other people that were hoping to be part of a great Stanley Cup celebration, not a riot. After the game some people in the crowd started to get out of control, and at that moment I made some very bad decisions, ones that I now have to live up to. For reasons I can’t really explain, I went from being a spectator to becoming part of the mob mentality that swept through many members of the crowd.

I could have turned myself in quietly and taken shelter as a Young Offender, but I asked my father to make it possible for me to speak today and have my name revealed...

Transparent move to appease an angry judge, or sincere apology? It seems like the latter, actually. Either way, it'd be fun to see an at-large rioter pass along an anonymous counterpoint. "For reasons I can't really explain, I love getting drunk and then setting things on fire."

"... Actually, that's pretty self-explanatory, isn't it?"


In News That's Unrelated To Anything, David Tyree Would Trade His Helmet Catch To Block Gay Marriage. But who really cares what David Tyree thinks? The only people who remember his name are Patriots fans because lest they ever let us forget, "THE GIANTS GAWT LUCKY."

Speaking of which...



The rest of the country must be sick of us in Boston. We have all the champions. We have all the trophies. Sorry. No brag, just fact.

It is the High Renaissance of sports. No city has ever sprayed so much Champagne in so few seasons. Overall, it's seven championships since February 2002. That's seven banners in nine years and four months. Our confetti is knee deep. The tires on our parade Duck Boats are balding. From Brady to Big Papi to the Big Ticket to Big Z. We are the champions.

In other news, Shaughnessy wrote pretty much the exact same column celebrating the Bruins title that he did in 2004 when the Red Sox. This proves what we already knew: Boston fans love the Red Sox, and the celebrate every other team's success else by pretending they're the Red Sox.

It's the High Renaissance of sports.


Amy Winehouse Seems To Be Doing Well. Vulture checks in with her latest tour:

Last night in Belgrade, the singer completely bombed her concert in front of 20,000 fans. Serbian media has savaged the singer with Blic calling it "the worst in the history of Belgrade." After starting an hour late, Winehouse was jeered by fans as she bumbled through her set, dropping her microphone and occasionally wandering offstage, leaving her band to continue on in her absence. Not really the best way to start a twelve-date tour.


RIP Ryan Dunn. Spencer provides a nice eulogy for one of Jackass' heroes.


Finally, An Ode To Roy McAvoy. Every time I heard people talking about "Rory McIlroy at the Open", I kept hearing "Roy McAvoy at the Open." And as cool as Rory was, he's got a long way before he touches legend of Roy McAvoy from West Texas. We'll always remember that 12.

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