Rory McIlroy and Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn are good buddies but, as the four-time major winner revealed yesterday, that wasn’t always the case.
Speaking ahead of the Dell Technologies Championship, McIlroy said that his friendship with the 47-year-old didn’t exactly get off to the best footing when they were paired together at the 2007 Madrid Masters.
“We got off to a bit of a rocky start,” McIlroy explained. “I was a cocky 18-year-old and he was a veteran.
“I might have shown a couple of bits of bad etiquette from time to time, and Thomas let me know about it. I thought this guy was a… whatever!”
Asked to elaborate on the incidents that annoyed the Dane, McIlroy continued: “I stepped on his through line on one hole, which was my mistake. Then, on the very next hole, it was a drivable par-4, but it had a dip in the middle, so I went to the green.
“Thomas hit an iron on top of the hill and hit in. I couldn't see where he was up on top of the hill. I was like right in his line between him and the flag. So I was just this oblivious 18-year-old, trying to get my tour card, and obviously he didn't take that too well.”
But the acrimony didn’t last very long. Less than a week, in fact.
“The next week on the range in Portugal, we sort of hugged it out and we've actually been really good friends ever since. Thomas is very principled and for being quite a big and intimidating sort of character, he's actually quite sensitive. He's quite a big softy.”
With just four weeks to go until the Ryder Cup, McIlroy also said that Bjorn has been keeping him informed with the latest goings-on regarding Team Europe.
“I've got to know him quite a lot over the years, but obviously a little bit closer the last couple as we've got closer to the Ryder Cup,” he added.
“But Thomas is a great guy. He's going to be a great captain. I chatted with him on the phone twice last week, just talking about a few things. He's keeping everyone in the loop. So far with the whole process he's been first class.”