Rory gives pro-am partner, 13, a round to remember
May 05, 2016
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Meghna Mazumdar, 13, won an essay contest for the chance to play in Wednesday's pro-am. (Helen Ross/PGA TOUR)
CHARLOTTE -- Meghna Mazumdar certainly did her homework.
She had read that when Rory McIlroy was 9 or 10 years old, he used to take a golf club to bed with him so he could practice his grip. So when Meghna, 13, teed it up with the former world No. 1 in Wednesday's pro-am at the Wells Fargo Championship, she was quick to ask him about it.
"I haven't thought about that in maybe 10, 15 years and Meghna brings it up to me today and I'm like 'Oh yeah, I did do that,'" McIlroy said. "So pretty impressive that she was able to dig that one up."
Meghna got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play 18 holes with McIlroy when she won the tournament's "Succeeding Together" essay contest. Meghna, who is in seventh grade, represented The First Tee of Connecticut and got first choice of players in the pro-am.
"I wanted to play with Rory for multiple reasons," Meghna said. "We've been following him pretty much since he turned pro -- plus, I love accents and his accent is amazing."
"She told me that on the first tee," McIlroy said with a grin.
McIlroy, who turned 27 on Wednesday, said he remembers meeting players like fellow Northern Irishman Darren Clarke, the European Ryder Cup captain, when he was a kid. So McIlroy, who was the choice of last year's essay winner, as well, wanted to make sure Meghna had a good time.
"It's cool to meet your idols," McIlroy said. "I remember how I felt when I was in that position and I always remember how they made me feel. So I always try to give them as much of a pleasant experience as possible and give them something to really remember and take home and talk to their friends and family about."
Meghna called Wednesday "definitely one of the best days of my life by far." She'd been telling her parents she was in "disbelief" but once she got to the first tee box, "I was like, ‘Yeah, OK, I guess it's actually real.’"
So were the nerves. But by the second or third hole, Meghna had calmed down and wanted to pick McIlroy's brain, soaking up all the tips he doled out. She's been playing golf for nearly six years, learning from the teachers at The First Tee.
"I told him just to be honest with me because I won't take it offensively," Meghna said. "I just want to improve my game as much as I can."
McIlroy came away impressed.
"I gave her a couple of tips out there," McIlroy said. "Hopefully she goes home and works on them now. All the fundamentals are there, it's just a matter of working hard and maybe tweaking a few things here or there but it looks pretty good.
"I don't know if golf is what (she) wants to do long term; I think (she's) too smart to be a golfer. (She's) definitely got a bright future, whatever she wants to do."I love accents, and his accent is amazing.
Most impressive for Meghna was the way McIlroy hit his driver.
"I have like literally loss of words for how great his swing is," she said. "Just watching him swing the ball and the distance he gets out of it because, I mean, my driver doesn't go very far -- and then watching his go like 3, 4 times the distance mine goes.
"Just seeing him play it was definitely an inspiration."
That said, Meghna came up with one for the highlight reel at the eighth hole. It didn't start out that way, though, when her pitch there landed on the undulating green and appeared to stop at the top of a slope.
"I gave my club to my caddie and then I started hearing everybody cheering and I was like, ‘Oh, did I miss something?'" Meghna said, flashing a big smile. "And it was my shot that I missed because the ball started trickling down the hill and landed like about 5 (inches) away from the hole."
Another one for the memory bank.
Rory McIlroy makes a 13-year-old's dream come true at Wells Fargo