Rory McIlroy has never hidden his love for English football giants Manchester United, but the four-time Major winner admitted yesterday that former United captain Roy Keane was not someone he looked up to after recalling the occasion when he turned down the Northern Irishman's request for an autograph.
McIlroy received many plaudits last week when he halted his play at the British Masters to hand a golf ball to a boy in the crowd and subsequently, making his day.
As quoted by The Times on the day before the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, the world No. 6 mentioned he did so out of his own volition.
"Every time I need a new one (ball), I look for a young kid in the crowd between holes to give it to them," the 28-year-old said.
"I was surprised how that little moment last week became so big. But it just shows what such a small thing to me can mean to a kid, and that kid might be inspired to go and play."
"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."
Recounting his unpleasant experience with the former Ireland midfielder as a child, McIlroy said: "I've asked someone for an autograph as a kid and they didn't give it to me and I've never liked them since," he said.
"I remember I went and asked for his autograph at the Portmarnock Links Hotel when he was with the Ireland squad (then) and he said no, and it stuck with me.
"I'm sure he's all right, but it has stuck with me ever since. So that's why I try to do it. If a kid asks me for an autograph, I always try to do it."
And when McIlroy was asked if he would now relent should Keane ask for his signature, he replied with a wry smile: "Only if he gives me his."