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McIlroy & Ishikawa shake the golfing world

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Iain Carter | 20:32 UK time, Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Putting Rory McIlroy's tournament-winning 62 into its proper context has been uppermost in golfing minds since that hyperbole-filled Sunday that announced his coming of age two days early.

As McIlroy was celebrating his 21st birthday on the Tuesday of Players Championship week, his ears must have been burning with the same heat generated by the sensational golf that won him his first PGA Tour title at Quail Hollow.

The Northern Ireland star is the talk of the game, although it must be added he shares the limelight with Ryo Ishikawa who set the tone for the weekend with his record-breaking 58 in Japan.

Ishikawa's achievement should not be underestimated: the average score on the day he won was just above 71, and he was more than 13 shots better. But nor should we underplay the scale of McIlroy's triumph either.

Rory McIlroy was simply magnificent in his final round at Quail HollowMcIlroy's display at Quail Hollow showed the hype over his potential is fully justified

As a cub reporter, one of the lessons that was hammered into me by my veteran editor was the importance of not over-doing the use of the word "great". Reserve it for when it really matters.

So my ingrained psyche has become one of caution. Listening to the commentators calling McIlroy's victory there was a voice nagging in my head - my old boss questioning whether they might be overplaying the extent of the achievement.

Just how good was he? Two days and a transatlantic flight's worth of contemplation
leaves one conclusion. McIlroy was exceptional. It was a performance that will not be forgotten and you don't get many of those at a regular Tour stop.

As one seasoned golf reporter, who by his own admission had reservations about the hype that already surrounded the youngster, commented here at Sawgrass: "Who else could shoot a 62 round that course in the final round?" It was that good.

But what does it mean for the future? There is always a danger of concluding that one week makes the foundation for a career.

Twelve months ago we departed the Players Championship convinced that the next stop for Henrik Stenson was the winner's circle at a major. We thought the same with Sergio Garcia a year earlier.

The record books, as far as those two leading lights of the European game go, fully illustrate there are no guarantees.

But there is a big difference with McIlroy. We have been aware of his potential from before he turned professional in 2007. We had already seen that he had the capacity to play breathtaking golf.

His fellow pros have spent the last three years nodding approvingly, aware that the quality of his ball striking, even on the range, is in another league. It is taken as read in the same way that they accept that there is no one to touch Tiger Woods when he's at the top of his game.

What McIlroy demonstrated with his eagle and 17 birdies over the weekend (having made the cut on the mark the day before), was a fulfillment of that potential. It also showed he could beat high-quality opposition going away from the field.

The United States had already been stirred by his talents, now they're fully wide awake. McIlroy has already had plenty of attention, now it is being magnified further.

Even Woods has joined the bandwagon, agreeing that McIlroy is a better player than he was at a similar age. "No doubt. I wasn't a pro until almost 21 and he was a pro at what 18? I wasn't even near ready to turn pro at that age, I wasn't good enough."

McIlroy's win will undoubtedly give him great confidence going forward - how could it not?

But perhaps the bigger benefit will come from the weeks that preceded his triumph, when he was at his lowest ebb, when his back hurt and he was missing cuts.

When he departed the Masters early he was talking about the need to take an extended break. He had struggled to cope with expectation levels, golf was becoming a chore and he was enduring the first serious slump of his fledgling career.

It is how you deal with such adversity that reveals your inner strength. Now he can reflect on a job well done. McIlroy had a long look at himself before dusting himself down and ultimately discovering the best golf of his life.

His potential is boundless, but we knew that already. It's just that he has now taken his first biggest step to date in proving it.


  • Comment number 1.

    The 5 iron for the eagle on 15 was just amazing, I think it beat what had been the shot of the year from Phil at the Masters. Especially after it followed a stunning drive, 352 yards and in prime position. Just the balance of the shot it was perfect, I think it is the best golf shot I have seen.

  • Comment number 2.

    the future is bright, the future is northern irish

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree somewhat with what 'Bleddyn Williams' has said, however I think the entire hole should be classed as "hole of the year". My reasons being that the initial drive was amazing, then the swing with the 5 iron was one one the best swings of a golf club I've ever seen. To be honest as well, the put wasn't the easiest either!
    McIlroy, I've been saying for a good few years has simply the best, most technically perfect (and pretty) golf swing in the world - Bar none. His has been the first name I look for when checking the leaderboard for a long time and I really REALLY hope he continues because with a swing like that he deserves to be a record breaker (and such a nice lad as well). Well done :-)

  • Comment number 4.

    Unless you are from Ulster, its hard to understand how much pride we have in being from Ulster. Sincerely the greatest pressure Rory puts on himself is to be a good ambassador for the people of Ulster.

    Rory is a great ambassador for Ulster, British and European Golf - if you doubt this, for what other reason would the American galleries love him?

    This gives him a great chance of winning a major and I am confident he will do this sooner rather than later.

  • Comment number 5.

    The one really "great" facet of all this is how well Rory's win has been received, not just by the American galleries and media, but by his fellow pros and caddies. They are thrilled for him, testament not just to his golf, but to his character.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    I really enjoyed reading this article and you are right, Mcilroy's potential is boundless. Regarding the use of the word 'great,' I too am opposed to its overuse. That said, even having had two days to digest that performance any superlatives seem justified. To put it into context, Camillo Villegas, who was -5 on day one, shot 80 - a full 18 shots worse than Mcilroy on Sunday. Tiger shot 79 on Friday. He finished with six 3's. There are only afew golfers in the world who could produce something like that; phil, tiger, maybe paul casey.
    I also think the manner in which he won, completely blowing the field out of the water will generate huge confidence when it comes to closing out golf tournaments.
    I'll try not to get carried away but if he fulfills his potential, he will become a great.

  • Comment number 8.

    Clarkey 32 - Yes Irish golf as well - I would love Rory and Padraig to win world cups for Ireland - two great ambassadors for their countries.

    I know that English golf is strong at the minute, but if Northern Ireland took on England it would be a very interesting match -
    Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell & Rory McIlroy v Paul Casey, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.

  • Comment number 9.

    Steve Campbell, would I be correct in thinking you would like to see an Northern Irish and a Republic of Ireland team in World Cups from now on?

  • Comment number 10.

    Lay off Steve. I agree that it's great for ulster golf. As much as I cheered on harrington, McIlroy is a local boy who you have heard about on local news etc for a long time now. It's almost like we all know him. I hope he does win many world cups with pod.

    As for the round, it was phenomenal. Agree 5 iron at 15 immense. I hope this victory allows him to relax more on course now. Was gettin impression that world was gettin on top of him so this acts as a timely antidote to that. I think now he is likely to b challanging throughout this year and I wouldn't be surprised to see him go close at st Andrews this year

  • Comment number 11.

    Lads Lads Lads, let's not worry about what side of the fence young Rory sits on. Let's all chill out and enjoy the pure beauty that is his game.

  • Comment number 12.

    Huge effort Mr McIlroy, lets be honest though guys he really should have sunk that shot on the 17th... Although I've been slated for this before, I can't help but feel our European boys are hitting form at the just the right time. I can't help but feel our next major could result in a European winner...

  • Comment number 13.

    I hope Manassero can keep the ball rolling this weekend... relatively speaking of course - he's only 17.

  • Comment number 14.

    I remember reading a comment here before the Masters, I think it was on one of Iain's blogs, from some American chap who said that if Tiger wasn't playing at Augusta, he wouldn't be watching, because watching a tournament without Tiger was pointless, there was no excitement.

    I do hope that the said chap turned off his TV on Friday night after Tiger missed the cut and missed the ensuing action. We have an 18-year old shooting a final round of 58 to blitz the field in Japan, an unbelievable talent in Manassero playing in his first professional event at 17, and believe it or not a 14 year old Florida kid playing in Turin too.

    Yeah, golf without Tiger is so, so boring!!

  • Comment number 15.

    Give it a rest, Steve Campbell. Rory is an exceptionally talented Northern Irish Golfer which means he is from both Ireland and Northern Ireland... whatever. I am guessing he would be embarrassed by reading your trivial banter.

    I'd love someone to explain what makes his swing and technique quite so good. As a golfer and golf fan, I don't quite have the eye for detail for what makes it so good? Every professional golfer strikes the ball extremely well, why single out his ability? Help please!

  • Comment number 16.

    when he wins he is british, but when he loses he is Irish !!! sort it out. The boy is Irish and this is not only great for Irish golf but for the future of golf everywhere. Inspiration for all kids everywhere

  • Comment number 17.

    "Breathtaking" that is the only word to describe it, how anyone at the tender age of 21 can produce golf of that magnitude is beyond me. Over the years I have watched the greats such as Nicklaus, Palmer and Player and also Snead, Lima and Cotton just to mention a few. This young man has the world at his feet and I only hope that he keeps them firmly on the ground and not get carried away as is often the case with others in the past.He seems a very level headed young man and if he manages to temper his agression at times then who knows what he can achieve. I look forward to his next achievement and God knows what that might be!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    i rememebr commenting on one of Iain's blogs about McIlroy just prior to the Masters. I said at the time that i thought he was a very talented player but that his current world ranking (can't rememebr exactly what it was at the time but he had already been in the top 10) was a bit of a joke considering he'd only won a single tournament to date which was over a year earlier and he pretty much fell over the line in that one. maybe calling it a joke was a bit harsh but i stand by the sentiment that he hadn't done enough at that stage to be considered a genuine contender for the majors and despite a lot of 2nd places, some of which he had a great chance to win and blew the chance, last year his ranking was too high in my opinion.

    that was not meant to take anything away from him, as i stated at the time i thought he was very talented and with the right game plan he definitely had the swing and general game to compete at the very top. but being young he was bound to go through a bit of a slump (albeit a fairly short one as it tuurned out) at some stage. i just felt the hype he was getting couldn't yet be justified and was probably doing him more harm than good.

    his performance at the weekend however shows that he has the potential to destroy a top class field with some of the most picture perfect golf you could wish for.

    i wouldn't expect him to go out and do it again at sawgrass and i also wouldn't be surprised if he has a much less spectacular rest of the year, maybe no more wins. but i do expect him to have a fair few decent finishes and over the next few years i think we can expect fireworks.

    that one round has convinced me of his winning pedigree which is something i previously had my doubts about despite his obvious and predigious talent.

  • Comment number 19.

    "Wow!!" As our American cousins are fond of saying.

    Goodness me, what a privilege it was to see McIlory in full flight on Sunday evening. I had been watching the snooker, but switched over during the midd-session interval to see Mark Roe, Robert Lee and Dennis Pugh all getting very excited about McIlroy's charge through the field.

    Well, what self-respecting golf fan could switch back to the baize after falling into the events on Sunday night, events which truly sent reverberations around the sporting world.

    Yes, it's great to see a British player doing such incredible things, but more importantly, to see someone swing the club like that.....and yes, his 2nd shot to the 15th (and the replays) left me amazed and in awe. That's the swing I've been looking for all my life.

    Also interesting to hear Tiger's comments after he missed the cut, "At least I get the weekend to watch and see how it's done, how real players play golf."

    Yes Tiger, you certainly did.

  • Comment number 20.

    for goodness sake, the boy wins a terrific event and all some people can comment on is which church he goes to. "yawn". The football blogs are on the other page.

  • Comment number 21.

    Lets not argue about whether Rory McIlroy is British or Irish but reflect on his brillant win. Although he was asked by an American journalist this very question and he replied he was Northern Irish. Good on you son!!

  • Comment number 22.

    Unless you are from Ulster, its hard to understand how much pride we have in being from Ulster.

    What a stupid statement. Us Welsh along with Scots, Yourks, Lancs, Cornish and many others have every bit as much pride in being who they are as Ulstermen do. Of course we understand

  • Comment number 23.

    I think the point of where Rory is from comes through in absolute pride in how a little country like Northren Ireland have produced and still are producing sports people who achieve greatness on a world stage.The golf union of Ireland is the umbrella group for all golfers in Ireland they decide who represents them in the world cup,so just a little insight into the feelings of golfers in the Ulster branch of the GUI,as there was no recognition of the fact both representatives the last time were from Ulster branch and played under the flag of the republic, and thats why there maybe some identity issues in where Rory is from.

  • Comment number 24.

    The golf union of Ireland is the umbrella group for all golfers in Ireland they decide who represents them in the world cup,so just a little insight into the feelings of golfers in the Ulster branch of the GUI,as there was no recognition of the fact both representatives the last time were from Ulster branch and played under the flag of the republic
    Sorry Rich, but that's still pretty poor.

    There played for the Golf Union of Ireland, NOT the Irish Republic. Where they came from within their catchment area is neither here nor there. Should the English union have to make a special announcement if they choose two golfers from the same county? No of course not os why shold the Irish with Ulster?

  • Comment number 25.

    Im sorry hacker jack but I don't think u grasp the complexities of NI by comparison to other parts of UK. I do agree that it doesn't matter where he is from in general terms. However having young stars like rory, mark Allen, Jonathan rea and Stephen ferris is a big deal in the NI context bcos we don't generally have that many of them.

  • Comment number 26.

    Rorys round was simply unbelievable. The crazy thing was if angel cabrera had holed a percentage of his holeable putts, he wud have won. However we must remember that rorys tournament only really kicked into gear at the weekend, with his breathtaking ball striking. Like cabrera, what has cost rory so many more victories up to now has been poor putting. As we saw at the weekend, if he starts holing out more often, he will pulverise many more fields..WELL DONE RORY!!

  • Comment number 27.

    There is not a golfer in the world that doubts Rory's ability, but none of us should forget the scale of the task before we set expectations of him.

    Tiger Woods, since he turned pro, has won about 1 in 4 of the majors he has entered. So please let's not get too down if Rory doesn't win the Open or the US Open !

    Best of luck to him, and let's not burden him with unrealistic expectations or irrelevant pseudo-sectarian comments ...

  • Comment number 28.

    Who did rory play for as a amature ? ........ Ireland ........... Fair play to him ... gifted ....


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