Rory McIlroy grew up wanting to win majors, not wind up in tabloids. He wanted to be followed by galleries, not paparazzi.
Over a decade of being in the pro golf spotlight, the four-time major winner has developed an aversion to fame. Part of that comes with age; plenty of stars develop a desire for more privacy the more their lives play out in the public space. Part of that is seemingly who McIlroy is. He didn’t want fame, but it’s the price of being a golf great.
“I dreamed of being a great golfer – I never dreamed of all this other stuff,” McIlroy said ahead of the BMW PGA Championship, which he won in 2014 after ending his engagement to Caroline Wozniacki. “I feel very privileged that I’m in the position that I’m in, but I just try to live my life the way I normally would.”
He added, “I never wanted to be famous. I wanted to be known for my golf and that was it. Everyone knows what you do 24 hours of the day. You can’t really get away from it too much. That’s why I’ve tried to withdraw from social media and keep my life more private. As time has gone on, I’ve started to value that part of my life more.”
And yet, McIlroy isn’t done winning golf tournaments. Not by a longshot. He’s in position after 36 holes to win a second Wentworth title, and it could spur him on to a summer similar to the one four years ago where he won back-to-back majors — the moment McIlroy rocketed to superstardom.
If he wants to be left alone, playing mediocre golf is the quickest way to be dismissed. If he wants to go as far as his talent will take him, then he’ll have a few more cameras shoved in his face.