Sports

Morikawa learns about Lara, a cricket legend; McIlroy ready for HWC

V Krishnaswamy | | Updated on: Dec 02, 2021
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McIlroy’s last appearance at the Hero World Challenge was in 2013

There were two sporting legends in the group alongside Pawan Munjal, the Chairman and CEO of Hero MotoCorp, at the Pro-Am of the 2021 Hero World Challenge. But only one knew of the other, the other didn’t know about the game or the prowess of the other till they had almost finished a third of their round.

Collin Morikawa on the threshold of becoming World No. 1 – if he wins this week – and Brian Lara, the only man to score 500 runs in a single innings and the only one with quadruple century in Test cricket, were paired in the same group.

Morikawa later confessed, “I'll be honest, I didn't realize who he was until about five holes in, but what an amazing guy. I didn't give him a tip until 18 and he was a little mad since he was aiming about 50 yards right every hole. No, look, you could see the competitive spirit, competitive juices in him, see that he was an athlete and I will definitely be on the internet looking him up later today.”

But before that Pawan Munjal, also a massive cricket fan and very friendly with Lara, would have filled him on some details of the West Indian superstar, who played cricket left-handed but now plays excellent golf right-handed. Lara has been known to visit golf courses for a round or two even during his cricketing days and now when he gets time off from his commentary.

The group also had Kris Kirchener, the head of Slyc.io, the latest sponsors of the Dubai Desert Classic early next year.

Rory McIlroy, when asked if he followed cricket, smiled and said, “A little bit.”

After a year when McIlroy contended at the 2021 US Open and had two wins, he is looking to get back where he was in 2014 when he won four times, including two Majors, a WGC and the BMW PGA in Europe. Between 2011 and 2014 he had four Majors but none since.

On adding more Majors and how often he thinks about it, he smiled and said, “Anytime you guys ask me about it is usually when I think about it.”

Then added, “Yeah, look, it's been a while, and since winning my last major I've done everything but win a major. I won THE PLAYERS Championship, I won two FedExCups, I've done basically everything there is to do in the professional game. If I keep playing the way I'm playing, I just keep giving myself chances, it will eventually happen again.”

On 2021, he added, “I think it's been a year where I've struggled in parts, but I still got two wins on Tour, which is still pretty good. I was tied for the lead with nine holes to go in the U.S. Open. I played well in parts, I just didn't do it consistently enough. I go back to 2019 and had like 19 top-10 finishes or whatever it is, that's the level I want to play at.”

McIlroy, who also met the media, when asked on Tiger Woods’ possible return to competitive golf, without playing full time on the Tour, said, he would love to see Tiger compete again with the best. But also added, “I don't feel like he's played full time on the PGA TOUR since 2013 really, so I mean it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone to hear that. He's been through injuries and he's, you know, he's been through the wars.

“He's put his body through a lot. Yeah, I mean, I think if I were him at this point, I'd have no ambition to play a full-time schedule. You play the events you want to play, whatever gets your juices flowing. For him, that's the majors and maybe a couple other events a year and that's it.”

McIlroy’s last appearance at the Hero World Challenge was in 2013 but that was at Sherwood. Now the event backed by Hero MotoCorp with Tiger still as the host has been held at Albany since 2015. McIlroy “I haven't played this event in a while and I felt while I was starting to feel like I was getting my golf game back and playing well, I wanted to play a little bit and this is another opportunity to play well and just build on, I guess build on the good play that I've seen over the last couple of months.”

Morikawa, just 24, who makes his debut at the HWC, was asked if had reset his goals after an exceptional run over last two seasons. He said, “I've learned after a good finish or a good week it's time to reassess. Especially after I win, it's time to set new goals. Like I talked about it after the PGA, I didn't do that and I kind of went on a little downfall. But when you're doing something good, you want to remember it, but you also have to remember the bad times and just got to -- you're always thinking, right? We're always on the spot of trying to figure out what we're doing great, what we're doing not well and that's what's great.”

All summed up, it might only be a 20-man field, but each one wants to end it successfully and get to Christmas to celebrate that. Especially, Morikawa and McIlroy. And Woods, too.

Published on December 02, 2021

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