Well, contrary to the rules that Happy Gilmore abides by, professional golfers are, in fact, allowed to get free relief from a human being. More often than not, “play the ball as it lies” is a good rule of thumb. Just not here. Don’t come at me and ask which rule number, paragraph and line this information is outlined within. The USGA handbook on rules is a beast. Dive in for yourself if you so please.
In case you’re living under a rock or are reading this article without the appropriate context of having seen the classic that is Happy Gilmore, I’ve located the scenes in question. It makes for a magnificent final act of the movie.
Shooter executes an improbable up-and-down off a man’s foot. A crazed fan who Shooter paid to screw up Happy’s game causes a TV tower to collapse right in front of Happy’s would-be winning putt. With The Tour Championship on the line, Happy proceeds to deploy his mini golf mind games, go to his happy place, and execute the greatest putt the world has ever seen.
As somebody who’s annually trying to will Rory to get his hands on that Masters green jacket and, at long last, complete the career Grand Slam, I didn’t want to acknowledge that similarity to Shooter too early on in this article. It’s too painful.
…Yet I can’t deny it. Just like Shooter could never get that gold jacket, the green jacket at Augusta has eluded Rory to this point in his career.
Perhaps this incident where Rory’s ball came to rest on a fan is the type of galactic alignment that had to occur. Shooter McGavin’s fictitious trials and tribulations have low-key been a Masters jinx for Rory McIlroy his entire career. Don’t ask me how. Some sort of higher-powered cosmic curse that needed to be broken by a synchronicity in space time such as this.
Now that this Shooter-esque scenario has played out IRL, my optimism in Rory’s chances at the 2024 Masters Tournament is renewed with utmost vigor.
Forget the missed cuts in 2021 and last year. We’re tapping back into the good vibes from that ’22 runner-up finish, the wealth of experience from six prior Masters top-10s, and the undeniable fact that we can now scapegoat Shooter McGavin’s villainy for Rory’s treacherous, heartbreaking strolls up Magnolia Lane.
OK. Hooh. Glad I could gaslight myself, spin that into a positive, and somehow convince my better judgment that Rory has a shot at the Masters this year. As for what’s happening now, he trails the DP World Tour Championship leaders by four strokes following a five-birdie, four-bogey, roller-coaster round of 71. He’s a two-time champion at this event and a frequent contender, so not a bad spot to be through 18 holes.
Until he gets it done at the Masters, though, everything Rory-related each year will build toward those four days at Augusta National. Fair or not, that’s the reality. He has to get it done, right? The man is way overdue for a fifth major title. Hasn’t won one since the 2014 PGA Championship. Should easily have seven or eight by now. I have a feeling the floodgates will open as Rory enters what’s believed to be the prime of a golfer’s career. We shall see.
It’s not lost on me, either, is that this is the No. 1 pop culture reference I’ve made any time Rory gets hot, starts dominating a tournament and gets his streaky putter to cooperate: