Great.

Rory Shows Off His 2012 Win Total.

I guess this is how it’s going to be. Rory McIlroy’s rise to #1 in the World Golf Rankings was inevitable according to most scribes penning love letters to the young lad today.  I suppose I should have seen it coming as well.  Lately sports. for me, has been an exercise in realizing that wishing something won’t happen doesn’t get you very far.  I’ve become the kid in Bad Santa.  Giants–Super Bowl.  Rory–Number One.  Prepare Miami for good news.  The way things are going, there’s no way they’ll be denied the NBA Title.

Rory’s win Sunday provided some compelling theater.  Tiger Woods, who had spent the 1st three days of the tournament fighting himself, suddenly had everything click.  He breezed through an error-free day, which culminated with an eagle on the 18th hole.  The 62 (his best Sunday round ever) brought him within two shots of McIlroy, who still had a handful of holes to play.  From that point on, a series of perfectly executed chips and bunker shots sealed the win for Rory.  I watched without much hope of a different outcome.  Tour pros don’t often skull bunkers shots across the green into a lake, but I guess you can dream.  Johnny Miller was dreaming.  He was dying for a McIlroy/Woods playoff showdown and documented every possible way Rory could make a bogey. It never happened.  Rory won comfortably and became the 1st number won to actually own a major since Martin Kaymer.

Many believe McIlroy will succeed where Kaymer failed, using the number one ranking to springboard his career to even loftier heights.  He’s certainly become the most steady top-tier performer in the world, hardly ever leaving the top-5 of any tournament he plays.  His win yesterday, though, was just his fifth worldwide.  Everything appears to be in place, but he still needs to win a lot of events to realize his obvious potential.  The assumption that he will win dozens of tournaments, loads of majors, is already out there.  In Sports Illustrated’s weekly tournament wrap, one writer suggests that Rory will retire as the 3rd greatest player of all-time.  I’m not sure such bold and rushed predictions are appropriate at this point.

It could be Tiger who has the biggest say in the kind of start Rory gets to supplanting him atop a list of the game’s modern greats.  McIlroy will have plenty of competition from his generation, but there’s no player aside from Woods who can captivate a crowd, or interest the public enough to be a mega-star.  Tiger has already kept an entire generation of players down.  He trimmed the Major totals of Ernie Els, Phil, Lee Westwood, Sergio and many others.  Is that what Rory is going to do to the likes of Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Kaymer, etc?  Can Woods summon four or five more productive years to remain a factor in all this?  His play Sunday suggests he can, but his inability to put together four rounds suggests his real dominance is forever in the past.

What I can say about Rory is he seems to have a quality that few players have and that’s his ability to make people overreact.  It’s now seen as a given that Rory will win the Masters, or at the very least be the favorite.  Like I mentioned earlier it was just his fifth win, but now there is no longer a single doubt about his ability to close.  In the span of two weeks we’ve forgotten about Westwood and Donald, we’ve forgotten that this was perhaps going to be Sergio’s year to win a major, we’ve forgotten that it was only 3 weeks ago that we crowned Phil Mickelson the prohibitive favorite at Augusta.  That’s all because of Rory, and even if he’s 60 or 70 wins, and 13 Majors short, that one quality is very Tiger-like.  Now we just have to see if Tiger can win before Augusta and see what that does to everyone’s expectations for the year’s first major.

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13 thoughts on “Great.

  1. I do think Rory v. Tiger would be good for the game if it develops into an actual rivalry on the course. I can say that Tiger’s charge was the reason why I first tuned into the broadcast on Sunday and that Rory held my attention more than Westwood or Kaymer or Donald would have in the same situation. Finally, I think Tiger’s play on Sunday can be attributed to the fact that he finally put on black shoes and a black belt. The white shoes distract him.

  2. Tiger has always looked a little strange in the white shoes. Perhaps if he really wants to get back in the groove he should go back to pleated pants and XL shirts.

    There is something about Rory, I guess what makes most people like him is what makes me hate the guy, but I wouldn’t have much feeling at all about the other guys.

    It’s so hard to have a golf rivalry. Even the big ones, like NIcklaus/Trevino I think are just a handful of occasions that have been lumped together into something greater in people’s memories. It’s not real likely any two players will repeatedly go head-to-head, but it’d nice if Tiger and Rory could get one real good duel in before Tiger fades away

      • Probably not. I know it makes me sound ridiculous and bitter, so I guess I just throw it out like it’s a universal stance. Basically…

        I’m oddly, almost to the point of obsession, patriotic in terms of golf interests. The Ryder Cup is one of my 3 favorite sporting events. I have the unfortunate habit of reading golf blogs and so I’m subjected to a lot of trash talk about Rory and general Euro dominance. This builds up a lot of bitterness.

        I also think he was crowned WAY to early.

        I admit he’s a good (approaching great) player and in the sum total of the last 4-6 months, he’s probably definitely #1, but five wins and 1 major is not THAT big of a deal. I know he’s 22 or whatever, but I think this is his 5th year on tour? It’s not that much more impressive than Sergio’s younger years.

        I think he gets way too much credit for the US Open, that reminded me of Greg Norman blitzing Sawgrass. It was an ungodly display of ball-striking in favorable conditions, but I don’t know that it portends career dominance. And, I don’t know why a Norman like career is out of the question, or even Ernie Els, and that would be a great accomplishment, but everyone is in a hurry to put him right up with Tiger and Jack and whoever else.

        Last, I hate the constant lauding of his maturity, and how “down to earth” he is, and how candid he is with the media, etc. etc. No one knows this kid. He tossed his gf aside to date a tennis player, gave her a wedge engraved with “WozzilRoy” or some such BS “couple name”…he seems like a typical 22-year old donkey, which is exactly what I would be, but I resent the building him up into this Ambassador of greatness and sportsmanship.

      • Don’t forget that he purchased an emerald green Ferrari immediately after winning the us open. Oh, and that momma k hates him and says he’s an arrogant dbag to the workers at events.

  3. yeah, it’s interesting to me that McIlroy is considered to have vastly more potential then some other guys with pretty similar records who aren’t that much older than him. And, age is not a huge factor in golf anyway. I mean, Kaymer’s got a major, Schwartzel’s got a major and no one seems to think they’re going to be a once in a generation guy, but Rory was crowned as that even before he won one. I think Charl is going to be a high top-end guy, meaning when he wins it’ll be impressive but he probably won’t win as much as you’d expect.

  4. Yeah. One way of looking at this is to imagine that someone told you that you could play golf for a living, earn $15 million dollars doing so, win a major championship, and captain a Ryder Cup team. Wouldn’t you consider that a successful career?

    Those numbers are Hal Sutton’s (using 1980s-early 2000s dollars). Are we hyping people so much that we’re losing sight of what a really really good golf career looks like?

    Another way of looking at this is the emphasis on being a “prodigy.” How often do we look at a major league baseball rookie and say that this kid will be a disappointment unless he has ONE OF THE THREE GREATEST CAREERS EVER?

    • Not baseball, but basketball – Lebron & Kobe. In the post-Jordan world every young kid is compared against Jordan. If they’re not Jordan, they’re a failure. Before Tiger, there was nothing like him… obviously Nicklaus had the success, but not the hype of today’s althetes. We’re in the (almost) post-Tiger world now where every young kid will be hyped as the next greatest thing to keep the sport hot.

  5. Yeah, basketball is an individual sport that way, and I think that’s why golf lends itself to that. Looking for one great star.

    What gets lost in the shuffle is the need for consistency. Rory would have to win 3 times a year for the next 12 years to get to Phil’s victory total. Now, maybe he rattles off a 8-win year, maybe he wins, 6 or 8 majors, but golf is about accumulating stats. You’ve still got to go out and win those events. It’s harder than it seems, especially these days. I feel like Rory has been given 30-40 wins and a few majors like that’s his basement.

  6. Here’s a sentence from Van Sickle’s McIlroy column today.

    “McIlroy is honest, thoughtful, endearing, clever, unassuming and delightful.”

    That’s the whole sentence.

    So, you can delete my 1,000 word explanation above and just say, that. that right there is why I don’t like the guy.

    are you kidding me?

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