Northern Irish professional golf player Rory McIlroy had a very close call with a lion on a South African safari over the weekend!
The 27-year-old tweeted a video of the encounter saying: “We’ve had a trip of a lifetime to Londolozi over the last few days. This big guy came to say hello last night!!”
He told local reporters that he was nervous but trusted his guide and tracker. “When it starts to roar… a vibration goes through your chest because of how loud it is… and makes you feel quite small.”
He said the visit to the South African game reserve was “unbelievable” and that even if he doesn’t win the South African Open, the safari gave him one of the “best experiences of my life”.
The former world number one is the hot favourite in the SA Open Championship which starts tomorrow, 12 January 2017.
His entry in the competition is part of returning a favour to close friend, Ernie Els. He said the South African golf champ played in the Irish Open to support his children’s charity, The Rory Foundation, and now he’s in South Africa to “repay the favour” and support Ernie’s Els for Autism Foundation.
The two golfers met about seven years ago at the Singapore Open and have since become close friends. They live near each other in Florida, USA, and Rory even named his first dog Theodore, after Ernie whose real name is Theodore Ernest Els.
Rory told reporters he’s close to Ernie and his wife Liesl’s son Ben who has autism, and was “more than happy and very honoured” to come down to South Africa this week and help out with Ernie’s Foundation.