The Golf Blog: Rory McIlroy ends the Tiger Woods era

mulligan, 11 August 2014, No comments
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The Golf Blog says: If Tiger Woods watched the final round of the PGA Championship, he should be calling Butch Harmon, pronto. 25-year-old Rory McIlroy laid emphatic claim to being the most dominant golfer of this era. Rory hit shots that no one else on this planet–except perhaps a Tiger Woods in his prime–could hit.

Rory’s drives routinely were well over 300 yards and were often the longest of the tournament, not to mention in the fairway. The 281-yard bullet 3-wood from the fairway on the 10th hole was the signature, jaw-dropping, did-you-see-that shot of the PGA Championship. It ended up 7 feet away–yes, a 3 wood that produced the same results as a wedge. It was so unbelievable that TV commentator Nick Faldo at first thought it was a bad shot. But it wasn’t bad, it was a low-liner bullet that was so amazing to watch as it made a bee line straight for the hole from 281 yards away.

But more than the incredible shotmaking, Rory’s intensity and confidence are what set him apart yesterday and this year. After squandering his one shot lead and ending up 3 shots down at the turn, Rory turned it up another gear, the “eighth gear” as Faldo called it. No one else on tour has an eighth gear, not even Tiger Woods, at least not the soon-to-be 39 year old version of Tiger. Once Rory turned up the intensity on the back nine, he immediately eagled the 10th, closing the lead to just one stroke. He then birdied the 13th to tie the lead with Phil Mickelson. Phil bogeyed the 16 and Rory soon birdied the 17th, to give Rory a 2-shot lead within almost a blink of the eye. Rory gave a double fist pump that was reminiscent of the emphatic knockout punches Tiger Woods used to throw.

Phil played valiantly and had or shared the lead for most of the final round. But the 44-year-old ran out of gas in holding off the charging 25-year old Rory. Phil almost pulled it off, nearly eagling the 7th with an amazing putt and the 18th hole with a near miss chip-in. But looking at the facial expressions of the battle-scarred Mickelson, one could tell that he was running out of steam on the back nine. It almost seemed inevitable that the younger, more muscular McIlroy would chase down and beat Mickelson. Many spectators probably would have thought that Mickelson’s playing partner, Rickie Fowler, age 25, would have put up the more competitive fight against McIlroy. But it was Phil who stood toe-to-toe with Rory for most of the day. And that fight ended probably the way most people expected, despite their love for Phil.

Could a 38-year-old Tiger Woods have done any better than Phil in holding off Rory? The honest answer is no. Coming off back surgery and beset with a major weakness with his driver, Tiger no longer has the game to dominate or to compete with the dominant force of Rory, at least not when Rory is at the top of his game. Maybe Tiger Woods in his prime could have. But the Tiger of today is a different player in a different era, the Rory McIlroy era.

The Golf Blog: Rory McIlroy wins PGA Championship for back-to-back majors, displacing Tiger Woods as golf’s most dominant player

mulligan, 10 August 2014, No comments
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The Golf Blog says: Final round leader Rory McIlroy played a lackluster front nine, shooting a 1-over 36. That gave an opening for the charging U.S. duo Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, and Henrik Stenson to take the lead. Rory even fell back 3 strokes out of the lead to Rickie, Phil, and Stenson.

But then on the 10th hole, the entire tournament changed. Rory blasted an unbelievable bullet 281-yard 3-wood from the fairway that ended up 7 feet away. Rory sunk the eagle putt and gave a double fist pump that was reminiscent of the kind of intense punch that only Tiger Woods used to do.

After Rory’s eagle on 10, the intensity on his eyes was downright scary. He was so focused. Only Tiger Woods used to exude such an intensity. From there, you got the feeling that Phil, Rickie, and Henrik were just hanging on to their leads for dear life. Rory was coming back–and he did, birdieing 13 to tie Phil and Rickie for the lead. As Rickie and Henrik faltered, Phil stayed tied with Rory for the lead until he bogeyed the 16th hole. Phil, 44 years old, appeared to be gassed. He put up a valiant fight, but he was going up against a 25 year old wonder in Rory at the top of his game.

Rory put the championship on ice by birding the 17th to open a 2-shot lead. It’s Rory’s 4th major of his career and a back-to-back major following the British Open. The display of power and shotmaking Rory put on in the last 2 majors signals an emphatic end to the Tiger Woods era.

The Golf Blog: Can US duo of Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson catch Rory McIlroy at PGA Championship?

mulligan, 09 August 2014, No comments
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The Golf Blog says: Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson couldn’t ask for a better pairing for Sunday’s final round at the PGA Championship. They’ll be playing with each other in the second to last group, right before leader Rory McIlroy. Both Rickie and Phil are students of Butch Harmon and will likely be teammates on this year’s Ryder Cup team. The gallery at Valhalla will no doubt be pulling for Phil and Rickie to catch and beat Rory McIlroy. Can’t wait.

The Golf Blog: Phil Mickelson birdies 4 of last 5 holes to pull within 3 shots of Rory McIlroy

mulligan, 09 August 2014, No comments
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The Golf Blog: Rory McIlroy clings to 1 shot lead at PGA Championship, as Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Bernd Wiesberger, Jason Day pursue

mulligan, 09 August 2014, No comments
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-13 Rory McIlroy
-12 Bernd Wiesberger
-11 Rickie Fowler
-10 Phil Mickelson, Jason Day
-9 Ryan Palmer, Henrik Stenson, Louis Oosthuizen, Steve Stricker

The Golf Blog: Tiger Woods’s majors drought hits 7 years as he missed cut at PGA Championship

mulligan, 09 August 2014, No comments
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The Golf Blog says: 7 years, and counting. The last time Tiger Woods won a major, George W. Bush was President. 7 years is the longest majors drought of Tiger’s career. Jack Nicklaus never had a majors drought as long (unless you count the years after he won his final major in 1986).

Tiger’s still coming off his back surgery and injury, but the writing is on the wall for Tiger, who will soon turn 39 years of age: Time to go back to Butch Harmon.

The Golf Blog: Rory McIlroy poised to win 4th major at PGA Championship, as Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson in pursuit

mulligan, 09 August 2014, No comments
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The Golf Blog says: Rory McIlroy has the 36 hole lead (-9) at the PGA Championship, one shot better than Jason Day and Jim Furyk. Rickie Fowler is back on the leader board in the majors at -7, continuing his stellar play under Butch Harmon. Phil Mickelson is also in contention at -6, coming off his 62 finish at the Bridgestone Invitational last week.

But Rory is in the driver seat. If he puts the pedal to the metal this weekend, he will win his 4th major and 2nd of the year, a few weeks after winning the British. Can Jason, Rickie, Phil or someone else chase down Rory?

-9 Rory McIlroy
-8 Jim Furyk, Jason Day
-7 Ryan Palmer, Mikko Ilonen, Rickie Fowler
-6 Phil Mickelson, Bernd Wiesberger
-5 Lee Westwood, Steve Stricker

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