Rules prohibited Rory McIlroy from signing an autograph for a young fan after winning The Open Championship on Sunday, but did he need to shove him away?
Let me get one thing straight before I go any further with this blog - I am not a golf fan, but Rory McIlroy has always come across as a likeable guy, and this incident shouldn't make me or you think any different.
After winning his third major tournament, a young fan approached the new champion in the hope of getting an autograph. However, as McIlroy was yet to hand in his score card, the Northern Irishman was prohibited from signing any autographs - so, instead of simply explaining this to the boy, he pushed him away leaving security guards to escort the fan back.
How long would it have taken McIlroy to turn round and say to the boy "sorry, I can't at the moment"? Two seconds? Surely for someone who has just joined an elite group, consisting of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, of men to have won three major championships by the age of 25, it wouldn't have been much of a hardship?
I have had the (dis)pleasure of interviewing a number of big names who have not lived up to my hopes, but I have heard only good things from those that have come into contact with McIlroy - so do not judge him based on one little thing. We've all come across as a bit of an ass at times... admittedly we probably haven't done so in front of the world's media.
Opinion on social media has been split - many are supporting McIlroy, quoting the aforementioned rule, while others are simply pointing to the reasonable fact that he could have handled the request better than merely batting the boy off.
The golfer's minor PR disaster won't have been helped by his ex-fiancee, tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, also lifting silverware on Sunday - no doubt certain tabloids will be looking for any excuse to write a headline claiming the Dane has taken a fresh dig at McIlroy (she might even have been wearing heels while doing so).
One of the main reasons why successful sports stars have such huge fan-bases, aside from their undoubted talent and commitment, is that fans can relate to them. They come from the same background, with the same everyday challenges, and they done good - better than good, bloody brilliant. They are role models and, to many, icons.
Should the boy have approached McIlroy looking for an autograph? No. Should McIlroy have batted him off as he did? No. Would as many people be sticking up for him if he wasn't one of the country's biggest sporting success stories?
Ask yourself how many people would stick up for you if you pushed a young boy away because you couldn't do something. Manners cost nothing, whomever you are.Suggest a correction