At the end of Rory McIlroy’s Tuesday press conference at Royal Troon, he was asked about his decision not to play at the Summer Olympics in Rio, and whether there was any lingering regret. His answer took about 30 seconds, but the blunt honesty with which it was delivered—so rare in the painfully dull genre of golfer sound bytes—transformed it into a sort of verbal cattle prod, sending a jolt of near-fatal electricity up the delicate backside of the sport’s self-reverential mythology. Please read the exchange in full:
Q. Jordan just said a little while ago that pulling out of the Olympics is the most difficult decision that he’s ever made. He’ll agonize watching the opening ceremony and you guys competing. I know it’s been a few weeks, but do you have any sadness, any disappointment? Secondly, do you guys feel that maybe you’ve let the game down a little bit considering non golf fans will be watching in Rio?
RORY McILROY: Honestly, I don’t think it was as difficult a decision for me as it was for him. I don’t feel like I’ve let the game down at all. I didn’t get into golf to try and grow the game. I got into golf to win championships and win major championships, and all of a sudden you get to this point and there is a responsibility on you to grow the game, and I get that. But at the same time that’s not the reason that I got into golf. I got into golf to win. I didn’t get into golf to get other people into the game.