September 21, 2014
Rory joins the elite
To Jack, Arnie, Gary, Seve and Tiger add Rory, now a three-time major champion at age 25, leaving him a mere Masters short of a career Grand Slam.
Seven years ago John Huggan, Scotland’s top golf writer, after watching the fresh-faced, sweet-swinging Irish teenager’s fast start in the professional leagues immediately declared: “In every respect young McIlroy is the real deal.” Now, after some life hiccoughs, there’s no doubt about that.
Much has been written about McIlroy’s ability to bounce back, take a beating then return to the plate with increased awareness and apparent relish. The way he turned a mind-jarring final round 80 at Augusta into a stirring wire-to-wire triumph just two months later at the 2011 US Open comes to mind.
Or the perhaps the message was printed in-clear a year earlier, when he shrugged off calamitous 63, 80 start at St. Andrews in the 2010 Open to bounce back with a weekend 69, 68, and a tie for third.
There were plenty of possible excuses for McIlroy if he had not performed to highest expectation; getting over his broken engagement, ongoing litigation with his former agent, maybe residual equipment issues: but here’s an alternative take worth consideration. The week he broke off marriage plans with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, he shot a final round 66 to win the BMW PGA Championship, one of the European Tour’s most prestigious events.
It is this single mindedness of purpose that seems to separate Rory from his peers, as well as his obvious relish for the task. So often in recent times we’ve heard newly-anointed champions or world number ones talk coyly about their futures. Not this man.
After his resounding victory McIlroy was asked if he had the same drive and ambition as Jack and Tiger to dominate his sport. Rory’s response was unequivocal: “I definitely hope so. I’ve really found my passion again for golf. Not that it ever dwindled, but it’s what I think about when I get up in the morning. It’s what I think about when I go to bed.
“I just want to be the best golfer that I can be. And I know if I can do that, then trophies like this are within my capability. I’d love to win a lot more and really looking forward to — even though there’s still one major left this year that I want to desperately try and win I’m looking forward to next April and trying to complete the career Grand Slam.”
Some are already playing the compare Tiger and Rory game, which from my viewpoint is trite and of little value; because in the final analysis it will never be about Rory’s totals, it will always be about the manner in which he wins. And so far, that has been a thing of true beauty.