Rory McIlroy: “It was good fun, I’d be terrible”

Tyrrell Hatton kept his cool as he was called a furious elf. Rory McIlroy overheard a quip about his tiny head and cracked up laughing. Collin Morikawa played along as he was told of a fan-generated, Transformers-inspired nickname for him: Optimus Fine. Oh, and Scottie Scheffler was rebranded Scott Scheffler and made to sell an imaginary car. You know, in case the professional golf thing doesn’t work out.

The first big collaboration between the PGA TOUR and DP World Tour content teams was semi-scripted lunacy. Actor John C. McGinley was at the center of it all as he gave tongue-in-cheek performance evaluations before the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club. The two-day shoot highlighted the strategic alliance between the TOUR and the DP World (former European) Tour and utilized the signature subversive style perfected by European content creators.  

“I think it’s a great move,” Jordan Spieth said. “I think the TOUR is going to do some more stuff like that; it’s something that the European Tour has done well, especially socially. It was fun to go in in character and act like it was a year in review.”

Rory McIlroy, statements

Added a laughing McIlroy: “It was good fun; if I had to do stuff like that on my own, in front of a camera, I’d be terrible. But having someone there to do it against makes it so much easier.”

McGinley, most famous for Scrubs but boasting a long list of film and TV credits, made sure this was no standard Q&A. Forgoing a salary in lieu of a donation to the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, he brought a gonzo sensibility to the evaluations. Think Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali G, Borat) or Zach Galifianakis (Between Two Ferns) if they worked for the Golf Channel.

“The most fun moment was the same with every single player, which was when I could get that hook in their gums a little bit,” said McGinley, an avid golfer. “I got Scottie Scheffler to sell me a car, and he was great. It was improv, where the conceit is there’s an initiator and a reactor. You can’t have two of one, none of the other, that’s when improv goes nowhere.”

Scheffler caught on quickly.

“It was fun,” he said. “I’m glad the TOUR started doing stuff like that. I wouldn’t really consider myself to be too funny of a person, so hopefully it turns out alright.”

McGinley, seated behind a desk, smacked it hard to emphasize his points. It got players’ attention but the Europeans, especially, were hard to shock. DP World Tour content creators are the people, after all, who made a video in which Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter give nonsense swing tips to baffled amateurs.

Hatton had just played a long pro-am round at the Hero when he sat for his interview. Still, he couldn’t be rattled. “Some bits were funny,” he said. “I started laughing and put my head down once. It’s good fun.”

Henrik Stenson, at the end of a lackluster season, said he felt he got off easy.

McIlroy was familiar with McGinley and enjoyed spending time with him.

“My favorite part was just meeting him,” he said. “It’s really, really cool. I’ve seen Scrubs but not Platoon. I was expecting, like, off-the-wall. He mostly stuck to the script.”

Well, for McIlroy, anyway. With the others, those scripts turned out to be more fluid than set in stone.

“The great thing is this was the first time the tours have come together to create a single piece of content,” said Will Pearson, Head of Content for DP World Tour and one of four creatives from that tour at the shoot. “It shows the alliance is working in different ways across the business.”

The PGA TOUR and DP World Tour had been collaborating on the project all year, but with the pandemic complicating things it was unclear whether it would get done in 2021.

“It was great to see players let their guard down and go with the unexpected,” said Michael Riceman, Vice President of Original and Social Content for the PGA TOUR. “To go toe-to-toe with a Hollywood actor and embrace the character and sometimes revel in the awkwardness, that was fun and not something you see much. We really wanted to showcase how the two tours are committed to working together and doing big projects together. This is just the beginning.”

Added Sam Davis, Lead PGA TOUR Social and Digital Content: “This was a true collaboration and that’s been the spirit of the project the entire time. It was so cool. I’m so happy we did this.”

Whether entertained, bewildered, or both, the eight players who sat for the video left smiling.

“I thought he was going to make fun of me a little more,” Scheffler said, “but I don’t think he knew me well enough to get after me. He had me dying laughing when I left, because his last words, he held up a picture of me and said, ‘This guy is DEAD. Your name is Scott now.’”

Spieth, who was familiar with Scrubs, having watched it with his brother, enjoyed a few laughs.

“I broke character a couple of times,” he said. “The more we can do that, the more fans can see more of who players are, because there’s a lightness to it, more so than typical interviews.”

You can say that again. Click the video to see for yourself.

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