One young fan's face lit up on Saturday at the British Masters as he stood by hoping to get a glimpse of Rory McIlroy and maybe even a high five. He got more than he'd hoped for on the 15th at the Newcastle course when McIlroy handed over one of his no longer needed golf balls.
Speaking at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Wednesday, McIlroy said he was surprised by how much attention his little gesture received. The kid's father had captured the moment on video.
He went on to reveal that when he was young and looking for an autograph from one of his heroes, he was refused. He has since used it as motivation whenever he sees a fan looking to make contact.
Quoted by The Telegraph, McIlroy said:
I was sort of surprised how that little moment last week became such a big thing because it's quite a regular occurrence on Tour.
I must use between six and nine balls a round, and every time I need a new one, I look for a young kid in the crowd in between holes to give it. It just shows what such a small thing can mean to a kid.
I had it go the other way for me, where I asked someone for an autograph as a kid and they didn't give it to me. And I’ve never liked them since.
Though his manager apparently gestured for McIlroy not to reveal the identity of the person who had snubbed him, the world number six did so anyway.
— Chris (@Chrell83) September 30, 2017
The person in question: Roy Keane.
He should be one of my heroes because I was, and still am, a huge Man Utd fan. But I remember I went and asked him for his autograph at the Portmarnock Links Hotel [in Dublin] when he was with the Ireland squad and he just said no. And it just sort of stuck with me ever since. So that's why if a kid asks me for an autograph, I always try to do it.