McIlroy encounters NFL stars at Augusta


ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy was pumping iron at 6 a.m. last Friday when three Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks ambled into the Augusta National weight room.

First came Tom Brady, fresh off a fourth title with the New England Patriots. Then it was Peyton and Eli Manning’s turn.

“That was my time to leave,” McIlroy said with a laugh Wednesday at Bay Hill.

It was a surprise to many that Augusta even had a gym on property. McIlroy said the “understated” facility was near the cabins left of the 10th fairway – you know, where he hit that infamous tee shot in 2011.

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The world No. 1 said it was “inspirational” to see two guys near the end of their playing careers still working so hard to improve.That superstar encounter was the prelude to another 18-hole match at Augusta with his dad, Gerry, and another father-son pairing.

The previous day, Team McIlroy lost to Seminole Golf Club president Jimmy Dunne and his son, 1 up.

This was Gerry’s first trip to Augusta, and, “now he appreciates what I go through one week a year,” McIlroy said, smiling.

McIlroy said he played only one ball, and though he didn’t want to offer up a score, he finally conceded that it was “in the 60s.” The second day was so cold that he couldn't reach the 18th green after a driver and 3-iron.

He described the two-day, one-night trip as “100 percent fun, 0 percent serious,” with good company, good friends and good wine.

“I had a really good time and it’s nice to feel relaxed in there for a change and not feel on edge the whole time,” he said. “It was a good couple of days.”