FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Rory McIlroy is known for being honest, open and thoughtful with the media, almost to a fault. He knows better than anyone that anything he says can become a story. But on Sunday at the PGA Championship, it was something the Northern Irishman didn't say that may grab a few headlines.
McIlroy, who carded a second-straight 69 at Bethpage Black to creep up the leader board, will almost surely be back at the A.W. Tillinghast track on Long Island in 2024, when the Ryder Cup rolls into town. If the fans this week have proved anything, it's that it will be an extremely rowdy affair in 2024, especially with the USA vs. Europe dynamic. We won't know until it happens, but the word "hostile" is one that may be thrown around quite a bit when the biennial competition takes place here in five years.
Following his round, McIlroy was first asked if he'd like a similar set up at the 2024 Ryder Cup to this week's PGA, which has been a brutal one for everyone except Brooks Koepka. As always, he gave his honest opinion.
"I think the fans would like to see a few more birdies," McIlroy said. "I'd like to—not like to think. I would say that for match play, it should be a little more of a generous setup, I would think."
It's more than likely that McIlroy will end up being right, as the Ryder Cup setups in America often lend themselves to more birdies and more excitement for everyone involved. Sure, Bethpage will still be its tough self, but it's safe to say the rough won't be nearly as brutal as this week at the PGA.
Then McIlroy was asked what he expects from the fans in 2024. Fresh off the course and having just experienced 18 holes of the Long Island faithful, McIlroy went a different route than the thoughtful one.
"No comment," he said.
This tells you all you need to know about what McIlroy thought about the crowds this week, which, to be fair, never reached the point of hostility. But from personal experience of following Tiger Woods' group on Friday and much of John Daly's opening round on Thursday, I'd use the word "relentless." Just about every male between the ages of 18 and 40 wants to be heard, and most of the comments would be categorized as "NSFW." McIlroy no doubt heard many of them. It's basically impossible not to.
At the last Ryder Cup in the U.S., McIlroy had a pretty serious run-in with a fan at Hazeltine National, opting to have the heckler removed from the property (rightfully so, if you believe what you've read on the Internet about what the fan may have said). And that was at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minnesota. If the people of Chaska can provide an ugly scene, there's no telling what the New York fans are capable of if a 48-year-old Ian Poulter is pumping his chest in their faces.