Rory and me: former Salisbury resident has brush with golf star

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 24, 2011

By Ryan Bisesi
Fresh off a dominant display at last weekend’s U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy is probably pretty high on the list of athletes most sports fan would like to have a beer with.
Former Salisbury resident Trip Short had things all lined up for that dream to come true during last year’s Quail Hollow Championship in Charlotte. Short and some friends saddled up at the bar at Del Frisco’s Steakhouse in the Queen City, exchanged quips and discussed the heavyweight bout going on that featured Floyd Mayweather. McIlroy was a noted boxing fan and more than willing to exchange pleasentries.
“We knew who he was because we followed golf, but most people didn’t,” Short said. “We sat down and just started chatting with him.”
The partaking lasted roughly until midnight before Short and his buddies signaled to the bartender to buy the hottest name in golf a drink.
McIlroy said it probably couldn’t happen and he was right. The barkeep resisted, shaking his head in disapproval, resisting in what could have been one of those classic moments Short would talk about forever.
McIlroy was only 20 years old.
“I’m sure he gets folks buying him drinks all the time now,” said Short, who lives in Chapel Hill and while in law school at UNC. “He’s young and charismatic and has done something nobody has done since Tiger in 2000 at Pebble Beach. Golf’s looking for somebody new, a big name that can fill the void.”
Two years later, the budding star can legally drink and is the talk of the golf world. Young, good-looking and seemingly to fill a void left after Tiger Wood’s personal and professional slump, he led the Masters before a disastrous 80 on the final day equaled a heartbreaking 15th-place finish.
“To come back and win that next major shows his character,” said Short, who became a full-fledged McIlroy fan after his brush with fame.
Short, whose father Chip is a Salisbury attorney, and friends were smitten by the charming McIlroy. Short says McIlroy has replaced Phil Mickelson as his favorite golfer.
“He was real receptive to talking to us,” Short said. “He was just hanging out back then like a normal guy.”
He was pretty good back then too. After staying out late and buzzing off in a Mercedes the night before the final round of the Quail Hollow, McIlroy shot a 62 on Sunday to capture the title.