Rory McIlroy has faced a number of what he likely feels are no-win decisions in his life as a pro golfer.
Whether he should have left Chubby Chandler to go to Horizon Sports to then form his own agency. Whether he should have broken up with Caroline Wozniacki in person, as opposed to over the phone. Whether he should do things he enjoys, like soccer, with his friends when not playing golf. Whether to play for Ireland or Great Britain in the Olympics. Whether to play in the Olympics at all.
And it seems McIlroy saw the resulting criticism from his decision to skip the Rio Games through that prism on Tuesday when he salted the earth behind him as he laid into the idea of golf as an Olympic sport and the notion that top players have a responsibility to "grow the game."
After shooting 2-under 69 to open the British Open on Thursday, McIlroy was asked about his comments and given a window to walk them back. McIlroy mostly didn't.
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"I think my opinion’s shared by a few people, but some people may think it’s wrong and that’s fine," he said. "But I’ve spent seven years trying to please everyone, and I figured out that I can’t really do that, so I may as well be true to myself."
Before concluding with that thought, however, the world No. 4 made it clear he's not rejecting the idea of growing the game. McIlroy said he feels he grows the sport in his own way, and not as a means of lining his and other peoples' pockets but rather for the greater good.
"Obviously I feel like I do my bit to grow the game," McIlroy said. "It’s not as if I’m uninterested. I feel like golf is a great vehicle to -- I don’t want to force golf on anyone. But I feel like golf is a great vehicle to instill values in kids. I’m an ambassador for the PGA Junior League, I do some stuff for the First Tee in the States, and I feel like I’ve used my success in golf in a very positive way in the community."
The four-time major winner made it clear that his livelihood and personal fulfillment don't rely on more people playing golf.
"Look, again, the next generation can play golf if they want or they don’t. It won’t make me any less happy," he said. "But if I can somehow make a positive change in the world by what I do on the golf course, so whether that means raise money for charity or give kids more of a chance in life growing up, I’ve been very fortunate to do what I’ve done in golf, and I feel like I’ve used that success in a positive way."