Rory McIlroy is one of the more refreshing athletes in sports today, a superstar who is accommodating and honest, though he might suspect that there's no benefit to either.
McIlroy ran afoul of Irish soccer fans Tuesday for this innocuous Tweet:
He was congratulating Northern Ireland for its defeat of Greece in European Championship qualifying. Then the backlash began. This was among the milder responses (here's a link for those who wish to see the more vile Tweets):
McIlroy felt compelled to respond:
"McIlroy has always been extremely careful in public on matters relating to religion or Northern Ireland politics, knowing the delicacy of the situation," Deborah McAleese wrote in the Independent. "But it is not the first time he has been bombarded with abuse over his perceived national allegiance. McIlroy stirred controversy in 2012 when he said in an interview that he always felt more British than Irish', prompting inaccurate speculation he would opt to play for Team GB in the 2016 Olympics. He ended the speculation in June when he said he would be representing Ireland."
Then there was the backlash to his innocuous answer to a question as to whether the absence of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson from the Tour Championship represented a changing of the guard. The exchange can be seen here.
At some point, McIlroy might realize it's better to speak in platitudes, revealing little of himself, a strategy that Woods has perfected over the years.