LONDON • Rory McIlroy makes no secret of his love for Manchester United but the four-time Major winner confessed on Wednesday that he has no time for the English football club's former captain Roy Keane after revealing that the midfielder once refused his request for an autograph.
Golf's world No. 6 won widespread praise last week when he interrupted his round at the British Masters event to give a ball to a young fan.
Speaking on the eve of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews on Wednesday, he explained that such gestures were routine among golfers.
"It just shows what such a small thing can mean to a kid," he said. "It's a nice thing to be able to do."
But McIlroy then went on to say that refusing a child's request can have a lasting impact as well.
"I asked someone for an autograph as a kid and they didn't give it to me," said the 28-year-old.
"I've never liked them since."
Pressed to provide more details, the Northern Irishman hesitated at first, and then revealed who was behind the snub.
"It was Roy Keane, who should be one of my heroes," he said. "I remember I went and asked for his autograph at the Portmarnock Hotel And Golf Links when he was with the Republic of Ireland squad and he said 'no'. It just sort of stuck with me. That's why, if a kid asks me for an autograph, I always try to do it."
He hinted at his dislike of Keane two years ago, when the former midfielder was involved in a spat with former United manager Alex Ferguson, a close ally of his. He was asked how much he would pay to watch Ferguson and Keane in a ring together. "I'd pay a lot to watch Sir Alex knock him out," the golfer said.
THE TIMES, LONDON