McIlroy & Ishikawa shake the golfing world
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.
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.
McIlroy'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.
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.