At 26, golf's top-ranked player continues to dominate, with two wins in the last three weeks, including a record 21-under, 267 victory on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship.
DAN PATRICK:When's the last time you had to pay for your own beer?
RORY MCILROY: Probably last weekend.
DP:If we're playing golf, could we have a couple of beers?
RM: Of course, if you want to have a little bit of fun and make it more enjoyable.
DP:We can wear plaid pants, have a cigar and drink beer?
RM: You can drink beer, but I don't know about the plaid pants. If cigars are your thing, that's fine.
DP:Can you tell a bad golfer by how he dresses?
RM: You get an idea. You have these guys who think if they dress the part, that's going to help them. Usually that's not the case.
DP:How important is being in good shape to you?
RM: Golf has progressed a lot. It has become more of an athletic sport. You don't need to be built like a linebacker, but you need to have stability and strength in certain areas of your body. If more golfers look athletic, it portrays a much better image for the game. That encourages kids to pick up a club. Maybe it encourages their parents to get them into golf as well. Fifteen, 20 years ago, the image of golf wasn't athletic. Tiger has changed that.
DP:Did it bother you to see Jordan Spieth on the cover of SI after he won the Masters?
RM: He deserved to be on it. To win the Masters at 21? To do it the way he did it? It was a phenomenal performance. It definitely inspired me. I'm really happy for Jordan. He's a great guy. I've gotten to know him pretty well. I'm expecting more of that in the future. I know I'm going to have to work hard to stay ahead of him and try to beat him.
DP:Can a rival help you get better?
RM: If you look at some of the other sports and rivalries, like tennis with Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal], they made each other better. Phil [Mickelson] made Tiger better. It inspired me to see what Jordan did at Augusta. It inspired me to have a little bit more edge and a little bit more intensity. It's been nice to pick up a couple of wins in my last three starts. I'm sure that will spur Jordan on as well.
DP:What else do you do well besides golf? Do you play soccer?
RM: I'm O.K. at soccer. I played growing up. People find this surprising, but I'm really not that competitive at anything else. Golf is my vehicle for something to be better at than anyone else.
DP:Who could bench more, you or Tiger?
RM: Tiger, I think.
DP:You paused there, like you weren't sure.
RM:[Laughs.] I was just thinking I probably have shorter arms so I don't have to move the bar quite as far as he does.
The NFL Network's Michael Irvin praised Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for taking risks on controversial players. "He tries to use the greatest game in the world, which is football, to help save and give a guy a greater outcome," Irvin said. "I will always love him for that." ... Trainer Doug O'Neill, who flirted with a Triple Crown with I'll Have Another in 2012, told me horses do feel the pressure of big races—and they're not alone. "Horses don't throw up," O'Neill said. "The trainers and owners do. Jockeys are known to do it every now and then too." ... Warriors assistant Luke Walton said his father, Bill, doesn't put on an act for the camera: "The way he speaks is not just for television. It's going out to a family dinner on a Wednesday night and him describing the salad as the greatest salad in the history of the world."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
RICHARD HEATHCOTE/GETTY IMAGES (MCILROY)
SIMON BRUTY FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (IRVIN)
ANDY LYONS/GETTY IMAGES (O'NEILL)
NOAH GRAHAM/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (WALTON)