The Golf Blog: Rory McIlroy ends the Tiger Woods era

mulligan, 11 August 2014, Comments Off on The Golf Blog: Rory McIlroy ends the Tiger Woods era
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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.


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