An inspiring lesson in grace, sportsmanship, and accountability from Masters loser Rory McIlroy


We usually look to success and experience for inspiration, but once in a rare while we can be inspired by failure and inexperience. If character is sometimes defined by how we react to failure, then 21-year old Rory McIlroy is an inspiration, a man of real character.

McIlroy was on the verge of claiming one of sport’s greatest awards, the green jacket and the $1,440,000 that goes to the winner of golf’s Masters tournament. He had a four-stroke lead going into the last round, and a one-stroke lead with nine holes to play. Then disaster: a triple-bogey 7 on 10, a bogey 5 on 11, and a double-bogey 5 on 12 and McIlroy was out of contention, finishing with a score of 80 and a tie for 15th place.

Walking off the 18th green he was met by a sportscaster with a microphone. McIlroy didn’t run from the mike.

CBS reporter Peter Kostis asked what happened. McIlroy didn’t whine, didn’t complain, didn’t offer an excuse.

“I thought I hung in pretty well in the front nine, I was leading the tournament going into the back nine. Just hit a poor tee shot on 10 and I just sort of unraveled from there. Just sort of lost it 10, 11, 12, and couldn’t really get it back. It’s one of those things, I’m very disappointed at the minute and I’m sure I will be for the next few days, but I’ll get over it. I’ve got to take the positives, and the positives are I led this golf tournament for 63 holes. I’ll have plenty more chances, I know that. It’s very disappointing what happened today and hopefully it will build a little bit of character in me as well.”

McIlroy already has more than a little bit of character.



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3 Responses to “An inspiring lesson in grace, sportsmanship, and accountability from Masters loser Rory McIlroy”

  1. Tom Stern Says:

    This was a really good post on a number of levels. It seems we are a culture, in my opinion, that is obsessed with winning. We live vicariously through the triumphs of others. Be it celebrities, sports heroes, politicians etc. I know that as a Tiger Woods fan I was rooting against Mcllroy, and even saying derisive things about him at the screen to jinx him. Now I realize that I was so caught up in the competition that by demonizing him, I was not only doing Mcllroy a disservice, but myself as well. Sports is really a chance not only to be entertained as a partisan advocate ( for whatever team or individual we prefer), it is also an opportunity to celebrate our humanity.Losers define the competition as much as winners and sometimes the vulnerability of those who fail and the grace they demonstrate, is a different kind of triumph. One that with its grace is a laudable as the excellence and dedication demonstrated by victory.

  2. Ethics Bob Says:

    Point well made–“the triumph of losers” is a lovely idea that had never occurred to me: I had been too influenced by “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”

    Incidentally, re McIlroy’s being a loser. I did some research on him and learned he’s quite a remarkable 21-yr old: he’s earned over $6 million, finished tied for 3d in the PGA twice, at 19 and 20. He could be one of the best.

  3. Rory McIlroy runs away with U.S. Open, gives ethics fans a new hero to pull for « Ethics Bob Says:

    […] earning praise here for an extraordinary display of grace and sportsmanship after his game collapsed in the last round […]

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