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If the game of golf was ever thought to be in jeopardy with the absence of Tiger Woods, the answer came this past Sunday, with, quite possibly the beginning of a new era for the world of golf.
This new era includes, the young and talented 22-year-old Rory MciLRoy from Northern Ireland, who put on an epic performance at the U.S. Open. With his talent, MciLRoy seems to have the wherewithal to put his name up there among the likes of renowned golfers Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
This past Sunday, on the evening of Fathers day (June 19), the U.S. Open wrapped up with the 22 year old MciLRoy sinking a short putt and giving a casual first pump before embracing with his father; the embrace can’t help but bring back memories of a young Tiger Woods embracing his father when he won his first Major (the Masters) at Augusta National in 1997.
What could be seen as a difference between Woods and MciLRoy this past Sunday, was the way MciLRoy with his elbow bent and close to the his body— casually fist pumped, even after finishing off a performance, that historically ranks better than Wood’s performance during the 2000 U.S. (at Pebble Beach). Woods, starting from the first major he won at Augusta National, has always been known for his effervescent fist pumps, in which after wining a tournament he punches or undercuts the air with his arms and fist[s] extended.
Maybe MciLRoy casually fist pumped, because he knows he has a long way to go before breaking Woods’s and Nicklaus’s records of majors won. Maybe MciLRoy doesn’t want to count his chickens before the eggs hatch, but, if he plays the way he did this past Sunday, he will definitely be mentioned in the same sentence as these two golfing greats. If MciLRoy continues to emulate this masterful performance he just displayed, he will certainly be up there alongside his boyhood idle, Tiger Woods, as one of the greatest golfers to ever play the game.
Following his epic U.S. Open win on Sunday, MciLRoy’s credited his play to Woods, saying on breaking his boyhood idles record, “I couldn’t ask for much more…I know how good Tiger was in 2000 to win by 15 in Pebble. I was trying to go out there and emulate him in some way.”
MciLRoy’s appreciation for Woods has been documented before; in 1998, when MciLRoy was just nine years of age, BBC reporter Rod Nawn did interview and a news story on him. In foretelling manner during the news story, Nawn says, “Remember the swing and remember the name, for at just nine-years-old Rory McIlroy from Holywood is following in the footsteps of his golfing hero, Tiger Woods.”
There is no doubt that this past Sunday brings Nawn’s prophetic words a little bit closer to fruition. On Sunday, MciLRoy beat Wood’s U.S. Open performance at Pebble Beach by 4 strokes, finishing at 16 under par— 4 ahead of Wood’s 12 under par at Pebble Beach back in 2000. Other U.S. Open records MciLRoy holds following his win at Congressional Golf Course on Sunday, include,
• The 72-hole record at 268. (Courtesy of ESPN)
• The 54-hole record at 199. (Courtesy of ESPN)
• The 36-hole record at 131. (Courtesy of ESPN)
• Most under par at any point at 17 under. (Courtesy of ESPN)
With Sunday’s performance, MciLRoy joined Lee Jansen and Lee Trevino, “as the only players to post all four rounds in the 60s.” MciLRoy shot 65 in round one, 66 in round two, 68 in round three and 69 in round four, to finish at 268, beating Wood’s total of 272 at Pebble Beach. One more feat MciLRoy accomplished on Sunday was, becoming the, “Quickest to reach double digits under par”; in just 26 holes, MciLRoy reached 10 under, during the second round.
MciLRoy’s two best holes for the tournament came in round two on Friday, at the 8th hole and round four on Sunday, at the 10th hole; MciLRoy eagled both holes for his two best scores for the tournament. MciLRoy’s eagle, on the 8th hole was picture perfect. On an approach shot, MciLRoy, who was 114 yard away from the pin at the time, landed the ball “15 feet behind the flag”; despite the ball landing 15 feet back, it miraculously rolled towards the hole and in. The miraculous shot was so good, even Phil Michelson was applauding afterwards.
As good as MciLRoy played, the moments that summed up his performance the most seemed to be the awe inspired spectators. Their were, “chants of “Let’s go, Ror-eee” coming from the massive gallery, and teenagers climbing pine trees to see golf’s bright new star…” The up and coming MciLRoy must be a relief for people who rely on ticket sales and T.V. ratings. Some experts consider MciLRoy’s swing to be the best in golf and others even think it might be the best ever.
If MciLRoy lives up to the high-expectations that have been put upon his shoulders, the “Let’s go, Ror-eee” chants will become louder, the ticket sales and T.V. sales will soar and Rory MciLRoy will get the chance to have many memorable showdowns with his golfing hero—Tiger Woods. Who knows, maybe Rod Nawn is right about MciLRoy; maybe MciLRoy will follow in the footsteps of Woods and win 14 majors, Then again maybe MciLRoy will surpass him. MciLRoy definitely has the talent to surpass Woods, the question is: can he emulate his performance at the U.S. Open for years to come?