Fizzle or Dazzle? The Golf World is Still Waiting to See!
Yes, there are the ‘fly-by-nighters’ and the ‘one-hit-wonders’ we all know and love from music to sports to politicians – if you really want to delve into that unpopular subject. But when it comes to the world of golf, a man by the name of Rory McIlroy is not on that list…yet.
However, in the beautiful landscape of the Sonora Desert, a great many people were simply waiting for Rory McIlroy to announce that he was the new No. 1 in the world of golf. (And, yes, there are many who have already stated – months ago, now – that this is the young man who is destined to become the biggest and baddest of all time.)
A man who is over a year older than the mighty Tiger was when he had all the accolades, Rory has had a really difficult time getting to Number Two, let alone One. For a brief recap, he did see himself in the ‘unable to reach’ ceiling of the top players in the world rankings, but only after he had proven he could and worked his ‘putt’ off to get there.
McIlroy had actually come back from 3 down after four holes in order to say ‘goodbye’ to his one-time buddy, Lee Westwood. Lee is a man who has become McIlroy‘s rival, to say the least, seeing as that Rory has never been able to beat him in the semifinals of the Match Play Championships at Dove Mountain. Friends is most likely too weak of a word when it comes to these two players, but Rory was up to the task of discarding what in all respects is a man who is like a brother to him, and had only one final hurdle to win his very first World Golf Championship event. The man’s name was Hunter Mahan – a good golfer, but the ‘American underdog,’ he remains.
Now, Rory McIlroy is from Northern Ireland and has been the largest representative of Europe, Great Britain and Ireland in the world of golf. Enjoying an extremely successful amateur career, he did top the World Amateur Golf Ranking when he was only seventeen-years-old, even though it was just for one week in 2007. It was later that Rory turned professional and established himself on the European Tour, winning his first match on that tour in 2009, and following up on the PGA Tour in 2010.
Representing Europe in the 2010 Ryder Cup, he also won his first U.S. Open in 2011, finishing with a record score of 16-under-par, becoming the youngest winner since Bobby Jones did it in 1923. The excitement that is generated around Rory has grown with each new appearance, and fans even give him the potential of becoming one of the highest earners in sports in terms of endorsements.
One of his proudest moments of 2011 came at the Masters when he shot a bogey-free, 7-under-par 65 in the first round to attain the lead after only the first day of the four-day competition. That Friday, he shot 69 to lead by two strokes, and Saturday, he shot 70 to finish at 12-under-par – four strokes ahead of four other challengers. Unfortunately, something that seems to cause a bit of trouble for Rory, is the fact that on the fourth and final day of the Masters he shot the worst round in history by any professional golfer leading after the third round of the Masters.
Taking a month off from competitive golf in 2011, McIlroy had struggled at The Open, with a combination of tough weather and a difficult layout. Again, at the PGA Championship, Rory became a complete non-factor after injuring his wrist on the 3rd hole of the first round.
Now when he once again hit that final round last week – this time against the underdog American, Mahan, chances were that every pro and newscaster within a hundred miles of the place knew that McIlroy would defeat Mahan who came into this past week ranked 22nd in the world. The last time a player with that ranking even made the final was back in 2008 when the man was eventually knocked out by Tiger.
Mahan is a good professional golfer, but McIlroy has the background to coast far and wide. Although Mahan has won three times on the PGA Tour, he has been a lot like John Elway for the Denver Broncos. For each and every win, Mahan has climbed insurmountable odds and come from way behind in order to claim victory. Perhaps, like Elway, Mahan is far better under pressure.
Perhaps what McIlroy didn’t understand was that Mahan was walking on that green with major confidence. He had just ousted Mark Wilson earlier, but he did show a chink in his armor when he messed-up a fairly ‘easy’ chip on the first hole.
Now, think about it, the only thing that McIlroy needed to do was make a 4-foot shot to take the lead. But…he inexplicably missed. This allowed one thing to happen that Rory did not want to see – Mahan’s smile grew brighter and his hope and confidence came soaring back.
Even afterward, Mahan made sure that everyone knew even if Rory is the most fantastic player and will, no doubt, be sitting on that No. 1 pinnacle of success very soon – he was quite frankly a little exhausted at listening to the critics. In fact, Mahan said: “When you’re a player and listen to Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo and all those guys, they had him picked to win. And that’s what everybody was talking about. There was absolute motivation in that.”
Oddly enough, McIlroy simply has dazzled – fizzled – dazzled – and then fizzled once again. It’s a back and forth ‘see-saw’ event with him in the world of golf. Yes, he does make sure that everyone knows he wants nothing more than to actually be Tiger Woods eventually, but Rory should remember that when Tiger was his age, there was no way he would’ve lost that match.
Even though Rory McIlroy has already been given the crown and chalice of “golf’s next superstar;” and even though Padraig Harrington (another Irishman) has already predicted that McIlroy and, not Tiger, has the greatest chance of taking a Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships away – these seem to be more ‘hopeful announcements’ than actual real ones.
You have to have the ultimate skill set – which Rory possesses. You need the ultimate need and desire to win, which he also seems to have. But can he really be the one who is downright cold-blooded enough to sit up there with the ‘best of the best?’
Dreams are fine and sportsmanship is fine, but when you look at the world of sports, ruthlessness seems to be what brings these men and women to the top of their game. And they make sure to deliver what they’ve preached!