A smiling Rory McIlroy offered to “autograph a bag of frozen peas” for his father, Gerry, after striking him on the leg with an iron shot during the first round of the Masters. McIlroy Sr walked away from the incident adjacent to Augusta National’s 7th green with a grin of his own. Rory, from 180 yards away, realised immediately it was Gerry he had hit with an intended hook from behind a tree that instead held its line. After a scream of “Fore” from his son, the ball landed on Gerry’s lower leg but apparently caused no meaningful damage.
“I was trying to turn the ball off him,” said the four-times major winner. “It was a perfect shot; it was dead straight. But I think he was OK. He didn’t limp away, he walked away pretty swiftly, so that was all right. I knew it was my dad when I was aiming at him, so probably 30 seconds before I hit it.”
Convention for golfers who hit spectators with stray shots is to donate an autographed glove by way of apology. “He’s seen me sign plenty of stuff over the years, so I think that’s the least of his worries,” McIlroy added. “I think he just needs to go and put some ice on. Maybe I’ll autograph a bag of frozen peas for him.”
McIlroy’s mood had been visibly improved by a decent finish to round one on a brutally tough day in Georgia.
The 31-year-old was five over after 14 holes but recovered to sign for a four-over 76. In the context of high scoring and McIlroy’s continuing swing work, it was far from disastrous.
“Honestly, I’m quite encouraged with how I hit it on the way in,” McIlroy added. “I hit some loose shots out there but after hitting the six-iron in the water on 13, I hit some really good shots coming in. It was just one of those days where I wasn’t very efficient with my scoring.
“I hung in there. I could have made a couple more birdies but it’s not as if anyone is going really low out there.” Justin Rose’s 65 was yet to come when he was speaking.
McIlroy spent a brief period on the range with Pete Cowen, the renowned English coach who has recently been added to the world No 12’s team, upon completion of post-round media duties.