Rory McIlroy wasn’t even supposed to be on the first series of Full Swing, but judging by what turned out to be the crazy golfing year of 2022, he just couldn’t be. Stop scrolling now if you want to avoid spoilers!
The final episode, “It All Came Down To It,” is primarily split into two halves – the first at the 150th Open and the second at the Tour Championship, with McIlroy featuring prominently in both tournaments. Much of the LIV golf drama is settled and St Andrews sets the stage as a metaphor for the PGA Tour and the traditional pro golf sphere – history, heritage, legacy, champions.
Before that, however, Full Swing viewers are introduced to Rory McIlroy. The child prodigy, who went on to win four majors, catches his famous clip of him chipping golf balls into a washing machine on live TV and practicing his golf swing in the living room to a Nick Faldo instructional VHS.
It’s a great reminder that the multi-millionaire modern-day golf icon grew from humble beginnings in the suburbs of Belfast, Northern Ireland to his talent and into a global superstar.
McIlroy discusses his in-game upbringing and his relationship with Tiger Woods:
“I was obsessed with golf at the time anyway, but when Tiger came on stage it just went to a new level,” he says. “I just remember watching Tiger play golf and because of the time difference it would have been Sunday night for us. He’s still my hero. For many people it is golf. And I feel very fortunate about the relationship we have, but since then I’ve just wanted to try to be like him.”
Fast forward to today and McIlroy is eight years without a major win, despite becoming the de facto spokesman for the PGA Tour and the biggest name in the sport behind childhood hero Woods.
The first half of the episode focuses on the tournament week of the 150th Open. Most of us will remember what happened. McIlroy was heartbroken after falling short when Australia’s Cameron Smith rolled past him on the back nine with putt after putt and birdie after birdie.
Cam, at the peak of his powers, was about to switch to LIV Golf at this point – and we see the LIV questioning that took place in his winner’s press conference.
“I just won the British Open and you’re asking about it. I think that’s pretty bad,” replied a clearly annoyed Cameron Smith. “I don’t know, buddy. My team around me worries about all these things. I’m here to win golf tournaments,” he said back to the follow-up.
Full Swing then translates that into the PGA Tour’s reaction before losing one of their best talents.
We see Rory McIlroy attend a junior clinic ahead of the Tour Championship as East Lake draws the conclusion of the 2021-22 PGA Tour season. East Lake is where the FedEx Cup Champion will be crowned, and this year’s winner will receive a record $18 million.
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes with the PGA Tour and McIlroy’s ever-growing influence as more changes are announced with increased events for the 2023 season.
McIlroy lets the cameras in where we see footage of his hot start on track before he comes back and makes the final group with Scottie Scheffler on Sunday.
We see him at the table with Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa watching a Xander Schauffele putt on the TV screen and saying if he misses that he’s in the last group. It is a very relaxed atmosphere in the clubhouse with golfers watching golf on TV as is seen in most clubhouses. Really cool.
We also see the massage room, where McIlroy comes out with a hell of a quote and yells “F*** you Phil!” referring to Phil Mickelson, defector from LIV Golf, when speaking about Josh Allen being a Phil fan. He jokes that he hopes that line makes it into the episode, and of course it does.
Also featured is a cool clip with McIlroy and PGA Tour Manager Andy Pazder as McIlroy explains to him how the announcement of the upscale events has resonated with PGA Tour players. Some players didn’t know they would be mandatory. “If I’m ready, so should you,” McIlroy said. “I could tell these guys no other athlete in the world can choose when and where they play. We’ve all gone a little soft.”
The Tour Championship finals itself are well covered and there is some great footage showing fans just how big McIlroy’s comeback win was, especially after his bogey on the opening hole. The final round is almost like a highlight package, conveying just how tense the final hole was, where McIlroy held an advantage over Scheffler in an $18 million shootout to $6.5 million.
Once Rory claims victory, we see a nice hug from Justin Thomas as he comforts Scheffler, who is then comforted by his wife Meredith.
McIlroy’s celebrations are then overlaid with a great quote:
“I care deeply about our sport. I care about its history, I care about its legacy, I care about the integrity of the game. And there are a lot of players out here who share the same views.”
We can also watch PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan toast the Northern Irishman in the clubhouse and you get a real sense of how appreciated McIlroy is and has been in a year like no other for the PGA Tour.
“If you’re talking about loyalty. When you talk about engagement. If you talk about leadership, this man is an example. Let’s toast to 2022 FedEx Cup Champion Rory McIlroy,” says Monahan.
The episode ends with McIlroy choosing a nice glass of red wine in the clubhouse before looking at his phone and guess what, his childhood hero and now close friend Tiger Woods texted him.
“He’s always first. Always,” says McIlroy. “Tiger. Like texting you before the last putt falls, always the first. He is unreal.”
The episode and season build to a crescendo to bring to bed the craziest golf season in living memory.
Full Swing Season 1 Episode 8 Summary: Everything led to this
- Episode length: 47 minutes
- Summary: At the end of the season, Rory McIlroy faces Cam Smith at the Open Championship while struggling for a change within the PGA Tour.
- main cast: Rory McIlroy
- Featured Tournaments: US Open Qualifier, US Open