By Steve Keating
PEBBLE BEACH, CA. (Reuters) – Rory McIlroy swapped his putter for a Toronto Raptors jersey after winning the Canadian Open and nearly forgot to get it back before heading off to the U.S. Open, said the Northern Irishman on Wednesday.
After riding a red hot putter to a final round of 61 on Sunday at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club, McIlroy said that while he has made some stupid mistakes trading his putter for an NBA team jersey would have been one of biggest.
“I definitely didn’t give it away,” said McIlroy during his per-tournament news conference. “I know I’ve done some stupid things in the past, but that would have been right up there.”
A bit of miscommunication during the winner’s ceremony created confusion that was quickly corrected with McIlroy asking his caddie Harry Diamond to chase down his favorite flat stick.
When Golf Canada chief executive Laurence Applebaum handed McIlroy the Raptors jersey he took it in exchange for his putter and during the celebrations did not take it back.
“I said to Harry, ‘Could you go and find Laurence? He’s got my putter. And put it back in the bag and make sure the bag gets on the plane and goes to California,'” said McIlroy.
“That was really it … the guy I gave it to was running the golf tournament. He knows it’s not for him.”
McIlroy said that while he brought the jersey with him he would remain neutral with the Raptors preparing to take on the Golden State Warriors in nearby Oakland in Game Six of the NBA Finals on Thursday.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)