The Golf Blog: Why Tiger Woods should worry about Rory McIlroy’s US Open victory

mulligan, 20 June 2011, Comments Off on The Golf Blog: Why Tiger Woods should worry about Rory McIlroy’s US Open victory
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The Golf Blog says: The same year that Tiger Woods won his first major at the Masters in 1997 was the last year that that Greg Norman won a tour event anywhere in the world (after winning 88 tourneys worldwide and 2 majors). Norman had been the World No. 1 ranked golfer for an astonishing 331 weeks. But hip and shoulder injuries in 1998, plus perhaps too many battle scars from near misses at other majors, took Norman out of golf. Norman was never the same. And, perhaps not coincidentally, a 22-year old phenom named Tiger Woods was the new kid on the block, with a flair and charisma not seen since, well, the Shark himself.

Fast forward to 2011. Tiger Woods is now on the sidelines with yet another left knee and Achilles injury. This follows his ACL tear and surgery in 2008. Tiger hasn’t won a major since that time and hasn’t won a tourney in 2009, 2010, or 2011. After 281 straight weeks at World No. 1 (and 623 total), Tiger finally lost his top ranking in 2011. Tiger is now ranked No. 17 in the world, the lowest he’s ever been ranked since before the 1997 Masters. On top of the knee injury, Tiger is still in the middle of massive swing changes with new coach Sean Foley–who, instead of making adjustments to Tiger’s swing under Hank Haney, is making a complete overhaul. Tiger has yet to win with the Sean Foley swing, and the recent injury to Tiger’s knee has led some, such as Rocco Mediate, to question whether the new swing is aggravating the knee more (given the greater weight on the left side through impact). Throw into the mix the accident, sexual affairs with numerous women, and divorce from his wife Elin, and Tiger’s career faces–for the first time ever–more questions than answers.

Meanwhile, enter Rory McIlroy. Another super phenom who, as a teenager, was touted to be the next superstar in golf. Rory has come close in the past few majors, but his final round meltdown at the Masters, shooting 80 on Sunday), had some wondering whether Rory would be just another Dustin Johnson or Nick Watney. Last week at the U.S. Open, Rory ended all doubts. He won the U.S. Open, wire-to-wire and in the most convincing fashion by a margin of 8 shots, shooting a U.S. Open record of 16-under par. Rory is the youngest player to win the U.S. Open since Bobby Jones, and he currently is on the same pace set by Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, both of whom had won 1 major by age 22. No one has dominated a U.S. Open field by such a margin in recent times other than, of course, Tiger Woods.

And Rory has something more. Something that the Shark had and Tiger has. Rory has star power and marketability. He draws media and fan attention, and rightfully so. With that much talent, the attention is justified. As with the young Tiger Woods, when you watch Rory McIlroy, you get the sense that you just may be watching history unfold. The only thing missing for McIlroy right now is a good, one-word nickname.


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