June 28, 2013

Rory McIlroy takes on trash-talking golf robot

Rory squares up to Jeff the robot, at PGA National in Florida © European Tour

If you haven't seen the clip of a nine-year-old Rory McIlroy chipping balls into a washing machine, this story starts here.

McIlroy was asked to recreate that appearance by host James Corden on League of their Own in 2011. You can watch how it turned out here.

Fast forward to 2013 and the European Tour took things a step further. Pitting Rory against a Golf Laboratory Computer Controlled Hitting Machine, at PGA National Resort in Florida, they set up a driving range of tricked-out washing machines for a novel challenge.

The robot, who introduced himself as Jeff, served up far more than just a perfect swing. As McIlroy prepared to hit targets he was subjected to a barrage of trash talk, prompting the Northern Irishman to double over in fits of laughter.

Watch as Jeff lands a ball inside a washing machine, setting off an excitable alarm to sound. "Is the same sound you heard when he signed your sportswear contract?" he says to McIlroy, referencing his gazillion-pound deal with Nike. Brilliant.

Back in the real world, McIlroy is in danger of missing the cut at the Irish Open, having opened with a sloppy first round of 74.

"The game is just not coming easy to me at the moment and while I was struggling at this point last year, I was able to turn the corner in the middle of the summer and have a great end to my season," he told reporters on Thursday.

Maybe he needs to ask Jeff for a little advice.


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