If you want a lesson in shaking off past failures and the doubt that hovers over you then I suggest you ask NBC for the tapes from the U.S. Open at The Congressional golf course in Bethesda, Maryland this past weekend (and yes LeBron James and Roberto Luongo I’m talking to you).
In the span of 2 rounds of golf Rory McIlroy not only put the meltdown of The Masters behind him, he buried it 60 feet deep in his back yard and poured out some liquor over the top of it.
McIlroy was as focused as focused could get. You could tell that he was playing mad after his meltdown in the final round at Augusta and the talk of it had annoyed him to no end, but his cool and sometimes cocky demeanor hid it all as he hit fairway after fairway, knocked down each birdie put and by the time Friday was over everyone in the field was playing for second place.
This wasn’t a domination it was a slaughter. The U.S. Open is normally a grind it out, go for par tournament where low scores are as common as meeting a Marylander that doesn’t like crabs. McIlroy made a mockery of that notion by shooting the lowest 36 hole score in the history of the event at 11 under and that would’ve been higher if he didn’t double bogey the final hole on day two. He also sets records for most shots under par at any point in the tourney (17 under), the 54 hole shot record (199) and overall record (268). Tiger Woods never did that, neither did Jack Nicklaus, nor did Arnold Palmer.
Yet even as McIlroy led by a large margin everyone tuning in kept thinking back to The Masters and wondered if he would implode again. He responded with a definitive no and now the only question to ask about his game is this… what’s next?
At 22 he’s the youngest player to win a major and could easily have had two if not for that one Sunday at Augusta. To many players on the tour McIlroy is the most talented golfer that anyone has seen in a long time. His talent is limitless and with this win you feel as though this is the beginning of the rise of the next great one in the game of golf.
His presence at the next few majors will be huge not only due to his rising star power, but because of the decline in that of Tiger Woods’s.
Tiger is not the same player that he once was and the game of golf has suffered because of it. Ratings are way down and the interest in the sport is down with it. The game needs a new face and McIlroy could be the man to pick up the slack.
Let’s make no mistake however. Though his win is impressive lets not jump the gun and proclaim like many analysts and writers have already that McIlroy will break Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors, its just one that McIlroy has so far.
He has a long way to go to catch guys like Nick Faldo, Palmer and Woods before we can start making those claims. To pile pressure onto McIlroy’s shoulders is unfair to him and to the game of golf at such an early stage. McIlroy’s day as number one in the world and a constant threat to win each major will come. Let him enjoy this one first then we’ll talk about the others.
Though you have to admit, after watching this weekend at Congressional you understand the hype and hope that surrounds his game. McIlroy took his failures from The Masters and our doubts about him and knocked them all over The Congressional country club this weekend and made it look easy.
If this weekend’s massacre in Maryland was a sign of things to come from Rory McIlroy then Jack, Tiger and the record books should all be on the lookout.