it could be worse

Players Championship: Remembering Rory’s first chaotic Players, which included missing the cut and getting thrown out of a bar

March 15, 2024

Richard Heathcote

Rory McIlroy has one Players Championship win under his belt, but outside of his 2019 triumph, it hasn’t been a breeze at TPC Sawgrass. Just this week, the Northern Irishman got into a squabble with Jordan Spieth and Viktor Hovland over a pair of awkward drops, as has been extensively reported. That led to increased tensions and suspicion, but it’s still a walk in the park compared to his first time at the “fifth major.”

Back in 2009, at the ripe old age of 20, McIlroy flamed out of his first Players with a 74-77. Not only did he miss the cut, but he wasn't even old enough to get a drink in Jacksonville Beach.

“The first year I played here, the weekend before I was in Vegas for a fight and then probably didn’t prepare the best way possible,” McIlroy admitted after eventually winning in 2019. “I missed the cut and ended up getting kicked out of bars in Jax [Jacksonville] Beach for having a fake ID. So I’ve come a long way!”

McIlroy got off to a blazing start on Thursday, but has been anything but consistent at TPC Sawgrass over the years, as his performances make clear:

2009: CUT
2010: CUT
2012: CUT
2013: T8
2014: T6
2015: T8
2016: T12
2017: T35
2018: CUT
2019: 1
2020: CNL
2021: CUT
2022: T33
2023: CUT
2024: TBD

That’s a rollercoaster you’d only be able to find at Six Flags, but nothing matches the ignominy of missing the cut and getting kicked out of a nearby bar. A triple bogey, a double bogey and eight bogeys over 36 holes will drive most golfers to drink, so McIlroy certainly wasn't alone in his desire for a cold one after 2009's collapse. It’s just too bad he wasn’t one year older.