“Illusions never become reality
I’m wide awake and I can see the perfect sky is torn apart.”
—Natalie Imbruglia, presumably singing about Rory McIlroy
I can not stand it anymore. I’m happy for Matt Fitzpatrick, and I know you are too, and I’m happy for the sport of golf. But sitting here alone, another dark Sunday night, watching the fireflies out the window, I can’t escape my own truth. And my truth is, I dreamed of something different this weekend. Something more. I’m talking about real dreams, Rory, not like the night I have nightmares about being chased by wolfcats with the face of Tyrrell Hatton.
I dreamed that you won in the light of day, and why not me? You were a whim away after the first lap. You were a whim away after the second round. Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, a real Dustin Johnson type, but I still believed it. I believed in you. Maybe you’re like the firefly, Rory. You shone so brightly, so spectacularly, but for so little time. And also like the firefly, I guess you don’t want to be caught in a jar.
Now that the sun has set on another middle finger, I have to ask a tough question: what has changed? How is this week different from Southern Hills and the PGA, where you were leading after the first round? Or the Masters, where you did one of your Sunday patent charges when it was too late to win? And that was just this year. How long have we been doing this? How long have you persisted in giving me false hopes, only to repeatedly snatch them away, like when my so-called friend in high school offered to walk me home, then moved forward a few feet the minute I reached the passenger door, over and over until I started chasing him in blind rage, only to learn a lesson many dogs learned a long time ago, which is that you can’t catch a car on foot, and even if you do, it’s basically impregnable?
How many years have I made excuses? How many times have I said to everyone, “yeah, he hasn’t won a major in a while, but look at all those yellow top 10s on Wikipedia? You don’t understand it like I do.”
My parents said I was a fool. “Why waste your time with him?” they said. “Do you find someone young and exciting, like Collin Morikawa, or maybe a stable gentleman like Zach Johnson. Did you know he was going to be captain of the Ryder Cup? And he goes to church !”
Oh, I would defend you. Sometimes badly. “Remember 2014?!” I would scream. “Remember Valhalla?! Remember Royal Liverpool?! How he took on Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler and straddled the game like Colossus?! Do you remember that, you *$%&$*ing #$(&#$s?! LIKE A COLOSSUS!”
But these are memories now. Memories of ten years ago. Do you know what happened ten years ago? I have no idea. The Enron affair? Something with Yugoslavia? Nobody knows. How long can a relationship last on memories? On what was, instead of what is and what will be? How long am I supposed to pretend that we’re both still the innocent little kids we were then, cocky and cool, you out there winning golf tournaments, me sitting around watching you win golf tournaments? How long can I pretend it is the reality of our relationship, and not the dull stagnation of the “old couple sighing over dinner at 4:30 p.m.” that has since set in?
As hard as it sounds, when I look at you on the big Sundays now, I wonder, “Do I really feel something for this person?” Do I even know him? Did I ever really know him or is this just some weird parasocial relationship that’s gonna end with me writing an even weirder breakup letter to a man who wouldn’t know my name if I yelled it in his face 10 times straight away, which I did once at the Tour Championship, and I apologize for that, to you two, to Golf Digest, and to all of my readers, because I hold myself to a higher standard than that in as a reporter, and there’s a push to deep left field by Castellanos, and I’m not sure I’m ‘going to be published in these pages again?’
Of course, I still smell the flames. On time. The Players Championship. Some circuit championships. Match play. We had a great time in Dubai. HSBC. The Wells Fargo. The CJ Cup, I guess? And yes, even last week when you defended the honor of the PGA Tour by winning the Canadian Open and planting a flag for the good guys. Even then, the fire was burning, and it is difficult to light a metaphorical fire in Canada. Or a real one. Too much snow, I am told.
But a man wears out. Hope dissipates, belief weakens. And who are we now, really? If I’m being honest with myself, I’m someone who’s wasted almost a decade of my life waiting for a transformation. And you’re someone who used to win major tournaments. Used to.
God, it’s hard to write those words. I know why people stay together, it’s because of the time invested, it’s because of the fear of the unknown, it’s because of the deadly force of habit. But it’s also because there was something authentic there, once upon a time. Remember how angry Phil Mickelson got at Valhalla, when you basically forced yourself to play in the dark? It was one of the best days of my life. Then, a few months later at the Ryder Cup, you taunted him about the FBI. You don’t piss off Phil Mickelson anymore, Rory. It’s a small thing, but sometimes the little things are what keep us going. I’m not saying you have to piss off Phil Mickelson all the time, but would once or twice a year really kill you?
There’s no getting around it, Rory. I can’t keep doing this. It’s time for me to see other golfers. Someone like…
… OK, well if you put me on the spot, I won’t be able to just shout a name. It is not fair. I’m not Rod Roddy here, I’m just shouting names willy-nilly. Sure, that’s a really sad and dated reference, but it’s a metaphor for what we had. Sad. Date. I’ll always wish you luck, and I’ll have a sad, wistful smile when you win, but that’s not good for any of us.
I know what you’re thinking, “You already said you were leaving. You’ll be back, as always, you creep. You pathetic loser. You old, aging has-been.”
First of all, there is no need for this kind of insults. It’s a tough time for all of us, but come on, man. It’s really personal.
Second, there is nothing that can bring me back. Not this time. Carve it in stone.
(Unless, of course, you do anything promising before, during, or even after The Open Championship at St. Andrews. Literally anything. So? I’m back, ready to catch that Rory fever , baby !)
In conclusion, we are done.