Over three years ago I wrote a column about the epic collapse at the 2011 Master’s Tournament by Rory McIlroy.
The Northern Irishman not only had an epic collapse, it’s still remembered as one of the worst collapses in major golf history: a final round 80 that saw him fall from first to 15th in the tournament.
Since then, as I predicted, he’s won tournaments, collected majors (he now has three) and just recently took home The Open Championship’s Claret Jug with a two stroke victory over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler.
But after holding such a commanding lead after 54 holes (he was six strokes in front of his nearest competitor to start Sunday’s round), he only managed his way through his final round to finish with a rather unimpressive 71.
The stories started pouring out about how he’s going to be the next young gun, shooting for Tiger Woods and chasing major championships like his life depends on it.
He has three major championships to his credit. He’s 25.
By the time Woods was 25 he had won five majors, three of them by eight strokes or more. Before he turned 26 Woods won the Master’s Tournament to complete the now famous “Tiger Slam.”
McIlroy is far from being in Woods’s category of dominance, but you shouldn’t blame the mainstream sporting media for trying to place him high atop the mountain.
They have to be able to talk about something sports-related at any and all times.
McIlroy is a good golfer. He’s not a great one, just a good one.
Great golfers win, not wince, under pressure. They thrive when the time is right and don’t get caught up in the moment of winning a major title before it’s crowned.
In 2011 McIlroy not only wilted, he collapsed; hunched over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame but gracious in defeat when he was interviewed afterward.
I almost felt like the same thing was happening last Sunday. He didn’t collapse, per se, but he didn’t dominate his way through the course either.
It was boring to watch him essentially “manage” his way through the course and barely be able to break par for the day.
Making comparisons is what people do nowadays. Sports commentators, writers, bloggers, etc. are now comparing McIlroy to Woods because McIlroy now has three majors at 26.
Woods had five by 26. Jack Nicklaus, whom Woods has been compared to, also had five majors by 26.
This is a different era of golf altogether. Younger guys are getting their names out there and the competitive advantage is so slim now that the golf world has seen three different major winners this year.
There were three different major winners last year as well.
McIlroy is not a dominating golfer. He may get there some day, but to make a comparison to Woods, who is still playing, is like comparing a fresh apple to an apple seed.
There is still some growth to be made.