ORLANDO, Fla. -- Rory McIlroy took a fun trip to Augusta National last week to play golf with his dad for two days, but he still found his way to the gym early one morning -- only to be joined by Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton and Eli Manning.
"Friday morning, I got in the gym about 6,'' McIlroy said Wednesday after his pro-am at the Bay Hill Club, where he will play the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the first time starting Thursday. "Brady walked in at 6:15, and the Mannings walked in at 6:30. That was my time to leave.''
The No. 1-ranked golfer in the world said he was impressed to see the players put in that effort despite being in their offseason and trying to enjoy themselves at the home of the Masters. As an invited player to the tournament, McIlroy has unlimited access to Augusta National. The others were guests of Augusta National members.
"I was just surprised he [Brady] was in there; the Mannings, too. It's their offseason. It was to see all those guys in the gym before their season starts. They're so dedicated and committed to what they do, especially those two guys, Peyton and Tom, they're both in their mid-30s and they want to prolong their careers as much as they can.
"To see them putting so much into it even after 15 successful years as a career and they're still doing it -- it was great for me to see, it was inspirational in some ways. ... It was just nice to be in that little world for a couple of days and experience it.''
McIlroy this week is making just his third PGA Tour start of 2015. He is coming off a missed cut at the Honda Classic followed by a tie for ninth at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Prior to those events, McIlroy finished second at the European Tour event in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, followed by a victory in Dubai, entrenching him as the No. 1-ranked player in the world.
He'll head to the Masters in three weeks seeking a third straight major and attempting to complete the career Grand Slam. However, McIlroy's Augusta National visit last week was not about work.
"Hundred percent fun. Zero percent serious,'' he said. "I didn't hit any extra balls. I played one ball the whole time. Really wanted to go and enjoy it with my dad. That was what the whole thing was about."
McIlroy did not disclose what score he shot, saying only that the first day was in the "60s,'' but the second day was in much tougher, colder conditions.
"I hit driver, 3-iron to the last [the 18th] and didn't reach the green,'' he said. "Dad had a great time, and that was one of the reasons that we really wanted to go up. At least now he appreciates what I go through one week a year whenever I come off the course and he says, 'Why did you do that on 6' or 'Why did you go there on 14?' It's not that easy. Now he appreciates what it's like."