After Rory McIlroy admitted that it was "not the right thing to do" to abruptly withdraw from the Honda Classic in the middle of the round last Friday because of an apparent toothache, the world's top-ranked golfer said he could use a bit more of Tiger Woods's mental toughness.
Speaking to Sports Illustrated on Sunday, McIlroy said he has observed Woods all his life, played a lot of golf with Woods the past year, and he has marveled at Woods's mental toughness for which Woods has always been renowned.
“He might be the best athlete ever, in terms of his ability to grind it out,” McIlroy said
of Woods. “I could have a bit more of that, if I’m honest.”
McIlroy's comments bring to mind one of the most famous Nike golf commercials that eerily debuted in 2008 before the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, two years after the death of Woods's father, Earl.
Woods won that tournament in gritty and remarkable fashion on a broken leg and torn ACL. After dramatically sinking a birdie putt on the 72nd hole on Sunday to get into an 18-hole playoff on Monday, Woods finally beat Rocco Mediate for his 14th major, four shy of Jack Nicklaus's record of 18, which Woods has wanted to surpass since he started playing golf with his late dad in Orange County, CA. That was Woods's last major win, and it was one of the most mentally tough performances in golf--and sports--history.
In the Nike Ad, Earl Woods's voice says, "Tiger, I promise you that you'll never meet another person as mentally tough as you in your entire life.' And he hasn't. And he never will."