Last year Padraig Harrington declared that it would be Rory McIlroy, and not Tiger Woods, that would prove himself as the greatest golfer of all time by beating Jack Nicklaus’ record of winning 18 majors. At the time, no one really took him too seriously, even though he had just won the U.S. Open. Yesterday though, McIlroy was going for his second major with the PGA Championship. And now that he’s won it, many are saying that he will in fact, turn out to be the greatest golfer ever.
It might just be two majors, but at only 23 years old, McIlroy’s the youngest player since Seve Ballesteros to do so, proving that he’s already got a knack for making history. It was on Saturday that he began to prove that he could actually do it; and it was clear from the moment he stepped onto the course at Kiawah Island that he wasn’t letting anyone get in his way.
He didn’t make a birdie all day long, and when he stood on the 18th tee, seven shots in the lead, it was just a matter of minutes before he won his second major. It was then that he turned to his caddie, J.P. Fitzgerald, and said, “I’m going to win this one by eight, as well.”
The McIlroy that appeared on the course at the PGA Championship all weekend long though, was not the one that we had seen so often earlier this year.
“I was a little frustrated with how I was playing earlier on in the year, but a few people in this room were probably pushing the panic buttons for no reason,” McIlroy said after the Championship. “It’s just great to be able to put my name on another major championship trophy, and looking forward to April next year and getting a crack at another one.”
Tiger Woods was also on the course throughout the weekend, but he was never a major factor in either helping or hindering McIlroy’s win. “He’s very good,” Tiger said after the tournament. “He went through a little spell this year, and I think that was good for him. We all go through those spells in our careers. He’s got all the talent in the world to do what he’s doing. And this is the way that Rory can play.”
But you can’t talk about a possible greatest golfer of all-time without comparing him to Jack Nicklaus, as well as Tiger Woods. Graeme McDowell, McIlroy’s closest confidante on tour, says that he’s not sure McIlroy is worthy of Tiger status just yet.
“It’s tough to say that Rory is a Tiger Woods type player,” McDowell said. “Tiger Woods is a once-in-a-lifetime player, and Rory is at least a once-in-a-decade type player. He’s that good….He’s going to be a superstar of the game, which he already is. But he’s a real superstar now.”
With this past weekend’s performance, McIlroy has already proved that much, at least, is true.