Print and Go Back ESPN.com: News & Opinion [Print without images]

Friday, June 24, 2011
Updated: June 27, 8:48 PM ET
Rory, here's some advice

By Michelle Smith

So you're the golden boy. Shiny and new and untarnished by repeated failure or scandal or even the weight of the expectations. For now.

The PGA Tour folks, they have expectations. They wouldn't call you a savior. At least not to your face. But they're thinking it.

Many, many, many tournaments have come and gone without a Tiger Woods win. Phil Mickelson's personal trials have faded into a lot of disappointing finishes. And there are a lot of guys nobody has ever heard of winning big tournaments.

Enter, well & you.

You are 22 years old. You have charisma, appeal and incredible game. You are the new hope.

But again, you are 22 years old. And sometimes, a guy has got to be 22. So the question is, how do you do it? How do you sow your wild oats, live the salad days of your youth, and still remain the darling of golf?

Let's face it. Right at this moment, you are a little too good to be true. You are polite to the media, engaged with the galleries, nice to your parents. You've been deferential to the legends of your game, learned from your mistakes and your swing is perfection. And you don't like Guinness? Seriously?

They already are calling you a statesman. Putting your name adjacent to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus after one major win. But people see the future, and they see you in it, walking a lot of fairways in a lot of final groupings on Sundays.

You already stand for something. Going to Haiti on your way to the U.S. Open, and talking about things like "perspective," putting a picture of yourself in Haiti on your Twitter profile & it's all good.

But sooner or later, that perfect, freckled facade is going to have to crack a little. It's the natural law of fame. What goes up must have a come-down. How far down will be up to you.

Rory, you're a good-looking kid. You've got that accent. The women are going to love you. And that's OK, but remember, it can be a fine line between a good look and a bad look.

You're photographed with an attractive blonde on your arm, walking a red carpet. Good look. Hugging her after another tournament victory. Good look.

You've got a girlfriend now. She's not too old and not too young. She's got a sense of humor, telling the press about filling your Masters trophy with Skittles. So far, good look.

Grainy photos of you in a hot tub with coeds. Bad look. Strip clubs? The worst look ever.

Keep the vices to a minimum. We're not sure what to make of the fact that you don't enjoy Guinness, the nectar of Ireland, but maybe you're a wine guy. Keep it in check. And hire a driver.

Beware of social media. Maybe Twitter is your friend now, but 140 ill-advised characters can make a guy look really bad, erase a lot of good will. And you can't even claim to be misquoted.

Don't give your friends anything to put up on Facebook. Perhaps check with Michael Phelps on this one. Friends might lie to you about their intentions. Their camera phones never will.

A few more pieces of advice:

Stay media-friendly. Good press will lengthen your career. It will get you through the tough times. It will make it more difficult for people to relish your inevitable difficulties. Being accessible and quotable will get you further than being surly and defensive.

Be self-deprecating. People who don't take themselves too seriously don't fall as hard.

Stay humble. You just recorded the best score ever at the U.S. Open. You led seven of the last eight rounds in major tournaments. We didn't say it was going to be easy. Try to remember Augusta.

Stay in Europe. You've said you're "never going to leave the European Tour." Never say never, but stay there and play for a while longer.

Create demand. Make it a treat for the American galleries to be able to watch you play. Also, this makes you seem loyal to the place where you got your start. That's always charming.

And, oh yeah, TMZ will have a harder time finding you there.