Babe to brat in 30 seconds flat…

If anyone ever had any doubts that the media is a fickle beast, the latest episode in the continuing saga of ‘Rory mania’ illustrates it well.

In the space of effectively a few days, Rory McIlroy has gone from being a media darling with continual headlines proclaiming sainthood, to being labeled a spoilt brat.

His offence was to dare to respond to what can only be described as direct personal abuse by a BBC commentator. Using Twitter, Jay Townsend referred to McIlroy’s opening round at the Irish Open as having worse course management than “an under 10s boys golf tournament”.

Before blocking the commentator from Twitter, McIlroy responded by telling Townsend to “shut up” and that as an unsuccessful golfer himself, his opinion “meant nothing”!

In the aftermath demands have been made for McIlroy to apologise, and there is even talk that the young golfer will be fined. McIlroys ‘responsibility’ to the sport is referenced- Townsend’s isn’t.

So the question arises yet again, do celebrities of whatever hue really have to watch every word they say? Did Rory really commit any crime in responding to derogatory comment with another derogatory comment? This is on the back of the quite ridiculous hype raised over Darren Clarke daring to celebrate his recent victory by daring to be pictured drinking a pint.

What has been obvious with both incidents is that it is the media that has driven the stories and decided the slant given to both incidents (are they really incidents at all?). Public commentators and a brief listen to 5 Live and Talkback, illustrate very quickly that the vast majority of the general public interested have no problem with McIlroy or Clarke’s behaviour.

Yet more incidents of an ever growing trend? The media manufacturing news as opposed to reporting it?

  • Pigeon Toes

    It’s chasing a ball round a field into a wee hole…

  • andnowwhat

    Totally agree with the tone of this blog.

    Townsend is an employee of the BBC and thus responsible for his actions. Rory has a bit of fire which we saw when he defended Clarke. I like that about him, it will further expand his profile beyond golf.

    I really don’t get the idea that because one swings a club, kicks a ball, sings songs etc. one is proclaiming sainthood.

    The positive stories of Rory (talking to kids for hours in a burger joint about golf being an example) far outstrips the pursuit by the bitter and the jealous.

    Maybe the success of Clarke, G Mac and Rory disproves every little excuse Townsend ever made for himself?

  • Chris Donnelly

    People need to stand back a bit and resist the temptation to make excuses for one of our own when, the reality is, he’s facing criticisms that would be equally levelled at anyone who did what he did.

    It’s not a big deal, but I think Rory will regret what he said as it did come across as petulant. Referring to another golfer as being a ‘failure’ isn’t likely to endear him to his colleagues.

    Truth is, the price of being a sporting phenomenon is having your every actions analysed, including by smart arse commentators and colour men seeking to make a name for themselves by making exaggerated comments.

    He’ll learn in time that the best response is to keep on winning, and in the meantime return to the gentlemanly approach that has won over so many fans across the globe.

  • pippakin

    Rory is allowed to be stressed as is anyone. If he had a bad day he would know that better than most although possibly not as well as a failed golfer who obviously knows far better than Rory what that feels like… He does need to watch it though. If he wants to present an image then he must live that image. It might also be a good idea if the BBC reminded their ‘expert’ that the buck doesn’t stop at twitter.

  • keano10

    Sorry Quincey but your lead thread is actually misleading.

    Jay Townsend’s criticism was actually levelled at McIlroy’s caddie JP Fitzgerald and not at McIlroy.

    He accused the caddy of having “shocking course management” and suggested that Tiger Woods former bagman Steve Williams would be a good replacement for Fitzgerald who has been caddying for McIlro Since 2008.

    McIlroy simply tweeted in defence of his caddy saying that he “will stand by my caddy”. He subsequently blocked Townsend on his Twitter account.

    None of this is actually referred to in your opening post.

  • Keano i dont agree that that is the case. When you criticise course management you are criticising the golfer first and foremost. To suggest otherwise is placing a weight of decision making, expertise and influence onto caddys that simply doesnt exist. Rory McIlroy decides what he, Rory McIlroy, does. Noone else. There may be advice and opinion, but the buck rests with the golfer, not the hired help. That isnt underplaying the value and assistance a caddy can offer- simply stating the factual reality.

  • Dec

    ‘His offence was to dare to respond to what can only be described as direct personal abuse by a BBC commentator. Using Twitter, Jay Townsend referred to McIlroy’s opening round at the Irish Open as having worse course management than “an under 10s boys golf tournament”.’

    That’s hardly direct personal abuse – it’s criticism, and aimed at the caddie as much as the golfer (and Townsend hasn’t been the first to question McIlroy’s choice of bag-carrier). McIlroy’s response – ‘you’re a failed golfer, what do you know’ was petulant in the extreme and it’s come hot on the heels of some bizarre remarks after the Open. I think his advisors need to have a word.

  • pippakin

    I saw this item on Sky News and they did mention the caddie but they didn’t say, as far as I heard, that the row was about the caddie. I’m surprised at that because defending someone is a bit different to behaving like a brat.

    It doesn’t alter Townsends position, except possibly to make it worse. Its not for him or anyone to state publicly that someone who would normally be in the background should be sacked.

  • Dec, if you were a world class golfer with a recent major win under their belt (hes proved himself- anythign that comes now is a bonus), does someone refering to you as a de-facto under 10 golfer not count as personal abuse?

    I think it does.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Ban Twitter !

    Problem solved, or at the very least agree that no news story should ever be based on a tweet.

  • Dec


    McIlroy understood Townsend’s remarks to be a criticism of his caddie (“He’s been having a go at JP every now and again and this was the first time I’ve responded – it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Now I’ve blocked him on Twitter so I won’t be reading anything more.”).

    In this story the only comment I would class as ‘direct, personal abuse’ was McIlroy’s: “Shut up … You’re a commentator and a failed golfer, your opinion means nothing!”

    It’s a pretty unfortunate incident all round.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Thanks to this more people than ever know who Mr Townsend is and that there is something in the US called the Golf Channel.
    Up until yesterday Mc Ilroy had over half a million Twitter followers and Townsend less than 10k.

    Game, set and match Townsend and evidence that it is not just footballers who make an ass of themselves on Twitter.

  • between the bridges

    darren clarke’s responce ‘everyone’s entitled to an opinion’ or in other words ‘who gives a flying ….’

  • The Raven

    Regardless of whom it was aimed at, it was good to see Rory’s response. Personally, in everything from sports to film reviews, I’ve tried to duck out of reading/listening/watching “critics”.

    Those who can, do. Or caddy. Or golf. Those who can’t…well…those who can’t, work for the Beeb. Or be an armchair general on Slugger.

  • Nunoftheabove

    I don’t see the point of this to the extent that nobody worth giving a flying ‘fore’ about has ever had any doubts that the media is a fickle beast. Or that anyone of average or above average intelligence remains in any doubt that the vast majority of Tweeting is just airheaded, meaningless, empty playground bollocks.

  • Im with Pigeon Toes here. Its about hitting a wee ball into a hole.
    “A good walk spoiled” (Mark Twain).
    Golf is only acceptable if you have to avoid a windmill or drive the ball into the Clowns mouth before it closes.

    But surely, this is only a story if we do anything that makes it a story. It becomes a bigger story with every “Tweet” and phone call to Talkback.
    But maybe something deeper here. A week ago Mark James (BBC) had an apology issued for him by BBC for saying “maybe they (Norn Iron people) will stop fighting ” (a reference to the success of Clarke, McIlroy, McDowell).

    We got all “pecious” about that but the man was only speaking the Truth and going against the common belief that these golfers, George Best, Barry McGuigan, Alex Higgins, Mary Peters and Gerry Armstrong (yawn!) unify us and all that.
    “Our” self-image has been damaged.

    But McIlroy etc have courted the British media.
    And this is what happens.

  • al

    McIlroy seems to have a thing for failed golfers. He used to play with my mate until the money started coming in now it seems his failed golfer friend is not worth his time.

    I’ve heard a few people comment that he is rather up himself but saying that I’ve never met the man myself so I can only say what I’ve heard.

  • keano10

    I think McIlroy is totally right to defend both his caddie and his right to choose whichever caddie he wishes. Alex Ferguson, Mourinho et al bitterley savage any journo who crosses them and nobody gives a monkeys. Why should Rory be singled out then…?

  • DT123

    I suppose Rory should have ignored Jay Nobody’s comments ,but as he felt he was defending his caddy ,and he is still very young,it is understandable .Life will go on,in the big scheme of things ,it matters to no one except Jay whathisname ,the failed golfer.


    If your mate isn’t a pro golfer ,why would Rory be likely to play with him?Rory has moved on with his life,so should your mate.

  • ayeYerMa

    This is yet more evidence of how useless Twitter is as a communications medium, and why no one should use it (especially if in the limelight). A pathetic character limit which allows little explanation of views, or little room for interpreting banter.

    The useless media, of course, absolutely love Twitter – it does their job for them by sensationalising everything down to a tiny headline.

    Next thing we’ll be seeing some delinquant trying to burn out Rory or Jay’s car…

  • AntrimObserver

    A ridiculous ‘sport’ played by some of the most overpaid, unathletic and tedious people imaginable. Snooker on a vast scale, really.

    As for McIlroy…what a strange-looking guy, eh? What’s with that hair?!

    I’ve always found people who are really into golf to be utterly, utterly boring and completely disinterested in most other things outside of golf. I think it stems from that smug, ‘I’m alright, Jack’ attitude of the middle classes from whence most golfers emerge.

  • Nunoftheabove


    As opposed to, say, the underpaid, hair-savvy, thrilling and insightful intellectuals who play and watch soccer ?