McIlroy supplanting Woods as golf’s dominant player

Rory McIlroy’s runaway victory at the PGA Championship didn’t just give me the sense that I was witnessing one of the greatest performances ever in a major. It also felt like the start a new era in the sport.

I hate to count Tiger Woods out. Many have done that over the years, and he’s made them look foolish when he’s emerged with a new swing just as dominant as ever. But McIlroy has the youth, swagger and otherworldly talent to put some distance between him and other golfers, including Woods.

The PGA title was his second major in two years, and it’s not hard to imagine the floppy-haired Irishman averaging one per season for the foreseeable future. He doesn’t just win — he obliterates the field. And he’s capable of that kind of magic at least once every four majors.

Tiger has had a good year by anybody’s standards but his own. He’s snagged three titles on the PGA Tour, more than anyone else. And after two winless seasons, it shows he’s finally starting to get comfortable with his new swing under coach Sean Foley.

But he still doesn’t trust it enough in majors. He’s been in the hunt in the last three but has flopped each time on the weekend. I believe it won’t be long until he’s able to handle that pressure again, but we’ll have to wait until the Masters next year to find out.

I get the sense with McIlroy that golf isn’t as important to him as it is to Woods, which isn’t a bad thing. While he was traipsing around the world to be with his girlfriend, tennis star Carolyn Wozniacki, his game suffered. He won a tour title in March but was barely a factor in any event after that. He tied for 40th at the Masters, missed the cut at the U.S. Open and tied for 60th at the British Open.

He was ripped for his lack of focus, but his critics need to cut him a break. Not all of our athletes can be cold-blooded killers like Tiger. And while that approach may have cost McIlroy some wins this year, having a balanced life should be the goal.

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