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McIlroy is the best since Ballesteros

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Iain Carter | 13:02 UK time, Monday, 10 September 2012

Rory McIlroy's latest win, his third from his last four outings during a sensational month in the United States, confirms him as Europe's greatest young talent since the emergence of Severiano Ballesteros nearly four decades ago.

But for the contrived reset rules in the PGA Tour's play-off series McIlroy would surely have already sewn up the $10million FedEx Cup thanks to his back-to-back victories in Boston and Indianapolis.

The controversial points adjustment means that although the 23-year-old continues to head the standings going into the final event, each of the top five can land the jackpot with victory at the Tour Championship.

With 2,500 points McIlroy still has the best chance but Tiger Woods (2,250), Nick Watney (2,000), Phil Mickelson (1,800) and Brandt Snedeker (1,600) would garner a triumphant haul with a win in Atlanta later this month.

This scenario hardly seems a fair reflection of McIlroy's dominant form throughout the play-offs but the reset is there to make sure the Tour Championship remains relevant at the end of the series.

Whatever happens at East Lake the week after next, Europe know that in McIlroy they can boast the world's best player when they defend the Ryder Cup at the end of the month.

In this form McIlroy certainly has the potential to play the talismanic role at Medinah that used to be the domain of the late Ballesteros through the 1980s and 90s.

They share much in common in terms of the audacity of their golf and the daring way in which they beat high calibre opposition.

There are fundamental differences too. McIlroy's play around the greens is never likely to come close to Seve's but the great Spaniard could never match the Northern Ireland youngster's imperious long game.

And at the heart of McIlroy's current success has been a new-found deadly accuracy with the putter which surfaced when he won the PGA - his second major - at Kiawah Island last month.

Rory McIlroy watches an approach shot at the BMW Championship. Picture: Getty Images

His nerveless holing out has remained. It has emboldened him to play with a brand of confidence that was the hallmark of Ballesteros in his pomp.

This year's Ryder Cup will be the first to be played since the untimely passing of the Spanish legend in May last year.

Memories of Seve will live large in the European team room and captain Jose Maria Olazabal is sure to use them to inspire his side.

The skipper shared with Ballesteros the most successful partnership the Ryder Cup has ever known. The seeds were sown some years earlier when Seve arranged to play with a 15-year-old Olazabal when he'd emerged as a promising junior.

"To be actually playing with such a champion, an Open champion, that was overwhelming," Olazabal told BBC Sport.

"It helped me in the sense of wanting to practise more, wanting to achieve things and believing that we could actually win tournaments and maybe major events. And that was because of Seve.

"I was very shy in those days. You just look at the man who has won the Open and you just look and listen. Obviously I was very quiet through the match. I looked at every shot he hit, the way he hit it but I didn't talk much."

Olazabal was much more eloquent during this interview for BBC Radio 5 live. The twice Masters champion remembers the great deeds of Ballesteros in detail and reflects on his own remarkable career, movingly recalling his own comebacks from injury and illness.

"Heaven," was the word Olazabal used to sum up his feelings when he returned to hitting golf balls after recovering from a crippling form of arthritis that threatened his career in the mid-90s.

"It is not easy to be lying on the couch in severe pain watching your peers playing golf and knowing at that time golf might be history.

"The Ryder Cup somehow helps you to try harder. To be part of that team is huge," Olazabal said of the inspirational effect that his quest to make the 1997 side had on his recovery.

But just hitting balls on a range again was the major turning point. "It was heaven, because I thought my golfing days were over, at my lowest.

"To be able to swing a club, to be able to hit a ball, to be able to see a ball fly that was like being back to being a little kid having fun at home."

The interview will be broadcast on Thursday night at 21:00 BST as we kick off 5 live's build up to the Ryder Cup.

The programme will be packed with memories and stories and we would like to include your favourite recollections, particularly of the great Seve in European colours.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments here and we will endeavour to include as many as possible on Thursday.

And what's the betting that in a couple or so decades from now a similar show will be planned when a legend from Northern Ireland will provide the central talking points?

"Seve and Ollie: A Ryder Cup relationship" - 2100-2230 BST, BBC Radio 5 live, Thursday 13 September.

The programme will feature special interviews with European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal and past captains Colin Montgomerie, Tony Jacklin and Bernard Gallacher.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    It's a bit early for such comparisons. Yes he is playing fantastically well but the Ryder Cup is a different ball game. Form counts for nothing so don't be surprised if someone like Martin Kaymer plays well.

  • Comment number 2.

    Would also add that I expect a comfy win for the Americans. The strength of their team and the course set up should be too much.

  • Comment number 3.

    Rory is in imperious form, and its great to see some RC big guns finding form. Mickleson, Westwood, Poulter and Woods all had good tournaments - so it bodes well for a cracking contest in Medinah!

    Interesting that as Rory has found form Woods seems to be improving also - perhaps the daunting prospect of Rory dominating the golfing world for the next decade or two is making TW fix up and look sharp if he wants to add to his major tally.

    As much as I don't think Rory is the new TW, you would certainly expect him to win at least one major next year if he carries on this form. The greatness of TW was that he could do it for so long, and heres hoping Rory can do the same!!

    Also, perhaps all those nay sayers and Rory bashers who lambasted him for taking time earlier in the season to spend time with Wozniacki and do some sight seeing and tennish watching, might think upon his scheduling and wonder now whether they ought to be eating huge slices of humble pie

    pass Don the pie knife.............

  • Comment number 4.

    #3 - Never mind Don - I think Rory lambasted himself - admitted he'd taken his eye of the ball and perhaps wasn't practising as much as he could/should be. He's now got his coach on tour with him and the change in his game has been remarkable.

    Interesting to see Tiger swinging better, particulalrly with the driver. Anyone else think he seems to be setting up with a little more width, creating room to swing into rather than the left sided drag he seemed to struggle with recently.

  • Comment number 5.

    Outrageous claim to compare him to Seve, lets see how he gets on for another year or 2

  • Comment number 6.

    Wonderful win for Rory. Great tournament too. The FedEx Cup has it's critics here in Britain but I love it, for three consecutive weeks we've had the best players playing great golf in great events in front of bumper crowds. Kudos to the PGA Tour.

    For Rory, well he'll go into The RC as world #1, has a $2 million lead in the PGA Tour Money List, has won more PGA Tour ecents in a single season than any European golfer ever.... I think you could say he's got it good at the moment.

    He gets a well earned break this week, hope he turns up at East Lake ready to go and claim the FedEx Cup.

    One last note- it was wonderful to see Rory being presented with the old Western Open trophy- this venerable old tournament was the second oldest tournament on the PGA Tour after the US Open itself. The past winners list reads like a who's who of US golf- Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan , Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods.... that's the rare-air company Rory's keeping these days.

  • Comment number 7.

    Really there is no comparison. Seve, while he was very good, is not the same calibre as Rory. In every respect bar chipping Rory is superior. When you look back on his career in ten years time he will be compared to Watson and Hagen. Very much a step above Seve.

    As for the Ryder Cup. Times move on. While it is an enjoyable three days I am sure everyone playing there would swap a Ryder cup win for a major win. It is a global game now and I think that the importance of this match has diminished.

  • Comment number 8.

    Davidmcc123 -1&2

    Just had alook at a couple of your previous posts, seems that you had a go at Ian for being a 'psychic' and being a bit 'premature'. Can you tell me where you went to get your pychic training?

  • Comment number 9.

    7- well said. The much missed Seve may well have been a charasmatic ambassador for European golf, but I do think we in Europe tend to over-rate him a little. We tend to talk about Seve in the same breath as Watson, Palmer, Nicklaus etc, which considering they won well more Majors than Seve is a little unfair on both parties.

    I also think it's unfair on Rory to be too specific in making comparissons with players of different eras and who are at different stages of their careers. All we can say about Rory with any certainty is he is the best golfer on the planet at this time, and of all the new generaion of under 30 players (such as Folwer, Simpson, Dustin etc) he seems the one most likely to make a lasting impression on the game. Let's just enjoy Rory for what he is and leave it at that.

  • Comment number 10.

    At this age McIlroy has the potential to be the greatest non-USA golfer ever, to be mentioned in the same breath as Hogan or Jones or Hagen. At the moment you would probably bet on him winning somewhere around the 8 - 10 major mark which elevates him into the higher pantheon of great players. However it will be difficult for McIlroy not to be burdened with the tag "the next Tiger" as so many golfers in the 70s and 80s did with "the next Nicklaus tag". Players such as Hal Sutton and Johnny Miller burst onto the scene and won Majors and were heralded at the next big thing but were never able to live up to the billing.
    I personally think McIlroy is the real deal although I do suspect he will be a streak putter (kind of like Mickelson) who either holes everything but can also make some shocking misses.

  • Comment number 11.

    #7 MickV17 wrote:

    As for the Ryder Cup..... I think that the importance of this match has diminished.

    Really? Are you an American? In Europe this is still THE most important golf competition as shown by the efforts of people trying to make the team and wanting to be involved.

  • Comment number 12.

    at #9 you may be guilty of over estimating how many majors Palmer won. Seve should be spoken of in the same breath as Palmer as both, quite rightly, had an influence that exceeded their major successes.

  • Comment number 13.

    IMHO there is no chance of Rory being the 'next Tiger' as he is already a great player in his own right and has the tournament wins to prove it.

    As far as the ryder cup is concerned it will probably be close again but I don't think anyone can say that the American team is 'better' in the way it was 20 years ago. The European team has Major champions, WGC Champions, Money list winners in it's own right and all are within the top 30 of the world rankings. They can go into any contest feeling equals - at the very least. They will win, just as long as they keep their team spirit ahead of personal ambition for the week.

  • Comment number 14.

    #1 I dont think its too early for comparisons at all...Rory is 33% of the way to Seve's major tally and he is only 23. I think the greatness of time will prove Rory to be more successful then Seve but he will never be the charismatic and influential figure Seve was.

  • Comment number 15.

    As for memories of Olazabal, I remember seeing him play in the British Boys Championship back in the early 80s. Whilst his ball striking and general play was very good, what marked him out was his putting.
    I have never witnessed anything like it. He stood over the ball for what seemed an interminable time looking down at his ball and up at the hole many times before drilling the ball into the hole. Over 2 days I don't think I saw him miss once from inside 15 feet.
    At his peak I'm not sure I have ever seen as good a putter as Ollie.

  • Comment number 16.

    Rory is currently the best player playing golf at this moment. He will end the year as #1, leading money maker on both tours, hopefully FedEx winner and undoubtably Player of the Year. Will he be the player to take over when Tiger stops, I hope so. He has the ability and appears to have the will. His play recently has also appeared to have inspired Tiger to step his game up. He seems to be a very level headed young man who currently has the world at his feet. I think if he remains this way he will dominate golf for years to come.
    The potential for a golfing rivalry between Rory and tiger over the next ten years is mouth watering.

  • Comment number 17.

    I must admit i winced a little when i saw the Seve comparisons, Firstly because i dont truly understand the need for comparisons in general, It does seem that almost regardless of the sport a young talent gets touted as the next Pele, Best, Tiger, Botham etc etc.

    Secondly because i feared that the misty eyed nostalgics would rise up in fury. "How dare you compare our beloved Seve with this young upstart". That eventuality doesnt appear to have happened just yet but I wouldnt be surprised if they are lurking ready to pounce.

    Whilst i am sceptical of these cross generational comparisons It has to be said that when compared with players of other eras Mcilroys record, up to present stands up favorably to most of the games greats and therefore its hard to be too critical. For me though a better comparison would be with his peers, and right now he stands up to that rather well too.

    Or alternatively forget the comparisons altogether and just enjoy the fact that These Isles have produced the finest golfer in the world today.

  • Comment number 18.

    #14 Rory has 2 majors, Seve won 5. He is 40% towards the total.

  • Comment number 19.

    Im 41 and my hero and not just my sporting hero was Seve, the way he playied the game was second to none, he was a genius. He inspired me to enjoy and love the game. I'm see a similer comparison in Rory, like you've stated his game is different but the game as a whole has changed. I think Rory struggled with being in the limelight at first by saying and doing the odd thing which on reflection he proberbly would do different. He is very young and an amazing talent and is now a very mature player and person. The olympics and Paralympics are trying to inspire a generation to take up sport. Well when it comes to golf you dont have to look any further than Rory, for he will inspire many youngsters to play and a few 41 year olds to keep enjoying the game they love. I tip my hat to him (I have the same hat as him, I dont look as good)

  • Comment number 20.

    @14 Spot-on. A huge factor in Seve's greatness was the extraordinary way he manufactured shots to got himself out of trouble. Rory's long and straight and unlikely to be a regular visitor to those parts of a golf-course so familiar to Seve. And much as I admire Rory, I don't think he'll ever have that sheer presence out on a course that Seve did.

  • Comment number 21.

    I think Faldo was quite good in his day.....

  • Comment number 22.

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

  • Comment number 23.

    Have to agree with TheRealJimmy about comparisons in any sport but especially in golf. Inter generational comparisons in particular I find pointless. I grew up watching the rivalries between firstly Jack and Arnie, then Seve (rip) and Faldo, then Tiger aaaand? Nope can't think of anyone. Who will be Rory's rival? Is there anyone of the same generation who can step up to rival him at the moment? Watney, Keegan, Noh???

  • Comment number 24.

    It's not just about major wins, it runs deeper than that. When Seve burst onto the scene European golf was in a far different place to where it is now. Seve was charismatic, exciting and a revelation. He more than any other European golfer inspired along with Tony Jacklin to give Europe the springboard to where it finds itself now. The Ryder Cup is unique and very special and I cannot wait to board that plane to Chicago along with my Seve tribute which will be with me on the course each day. Rory is wonderful and yes he reminds me of Seve, but we are in a different era.

  • Comment number 25.

    For all those you are saying it is ridiculous to compare McIlroy to Seve: it's true. but the the point of the blog to to compare him with an early Seve, breaking onto the scene. McIlroy has the talent to become one of the best golfers of all time and can rack up a fair few major wins if he continues to play like he has. I think he will thrive in the Ryder Cup as he looked quite weak here in the Open ect. but imperious on the american courses. McIlroy has the potential to be as successful as Seve was, but he will need to be a dominating force for many more years yet.

  • Comment number 26.

    Ian I guess the comparrison you make is valid to an extent but I guess everyone reads things differently. To be fair to Rory he seems to be his own man and will like all greats Seve, Jack, Arnie,Tiger, Player etc will be known simply as Rory. He has an exciting game and when on form plays at a level that puts him in a class of his own. Certain courses/ conditions will favour the way he plays and when that happens he will always be in contention.
    I was one who began to doubt all the hype from when he burst on the scene and was touted as the next big thing in golf but the experts seem to have got it right as his star shines ever brighter. Also at 23 he has a lot of time and could barring injuries and or losing something in his game go on to achieve many majors and victories.

  • Comment number 27.

    Trev the Trainer - two excellent posts, especially #11 and also #13 there.

    18 Neil - I thought jamesmathew had made a good post for a minute there. how cruel of you to burst that bubble!

    wcihis - I think Ernie and Phil both masqueraded as Tiger's rivals for a while, but possibly didn't win enough majors (7 intotal isn't it?) or head to heads (roughly none) to produce a lasting memory of real rivalry like Player and Palmer, then Watson did with Jack

  • Comment number 28.

    Seve was never a dominant force, he was along with Norman and Faldo, a top player of his era. You can't compare the careers of players until they finish playing. Seve was a wonderful player but Mcilroy could be the best ever, we'll know in a decade or so, until then comparisons are pointless.

  • Comment number 29.

    yorkshire_blogster @3 and 3puttpete @4:

    Thank you 3puttpete ... at least you've kept a keen and objective eye on what I've written about Rory (read: my "constructive criticism" in the archives) over the last year or so!

    As you suggest, the key to Rory's current success ( ... despite nearly all of his wins coming in somewhat similar circumstances, i.e. long rain-soaked courses, soft receptive greens, fair sunny weather with only light winds/breeze) is that he is putting the necessary work into his game. He has appointed his long-time coach, Michael Bannon, to accompany him and immediately iron out any kinks he may have in his swing.

    By self-admission, Rory's driving was not at its best on Saturday so he immediately went out on to the practice range until late (... nearly the last man out there it was said, except for that ultra-dedicated "range rat" and "ball beater", Vijay Singh) to put in a lot of really good corrective work and get the problem ironed out .... which we saw to great effect in Sunday's closing round.

    Another feature which I was really pleased to see (... and I've accused Rory of poor/immature judgment before) was his course management, e.g. aiming well left on the last hole to take the water completely out of play. "Phil the Thrill" had just missed his vital par putt on 17, so Rory knew that he was three ahead of Lefty and Westy ... a unbeatable winning cushion. Why risk going for the pin and suffering a potential meltdown (... contrast Dustin Johnson's drive at the last ... splash!). Rory could afford to take five, which he did, and still win the event with consummate ease.

    The most pleasing feature to me, however, is that Rory has now matured as a player and as a man. No more "play acting" to the gallery when he misses a shot, no more "little-boy-lost look" when he misses a putt ... he is now getting on with the job/game in a highly professional manner and, as he says himself, is turning a poor round into a good round, e.g. Saturday's 69, by grinding it out. (In the past, I questioned his "fight" ... well, he's showing the necessary "fighting spirit" which every great of the game needs to display!)

    Wee Rors (or should that now be "Big Rors"?) is beginning to fulfil the promise/potential everyone knew he possessed ... which is frightening for all the other established stars in such a star-studded field as at the BMW Championship!

    In fair-weather conditions, our self confessed "fair-weather golfer" is virtually unbeatable ... and this win will boost his confidence and desire to stay at the top even further. Remember the old adage: "Success breeds success!"

    P.S. - Indeed, I'm so happy for/about Rory that I'm now going to get off his case (... at least for a while) and turn my full and undivided attention to his "Norn Iron bro 'n' cohort", G-Mac, who has sadly become "the sick man" of the Ryder Cup Team!

  • Comment number 30.

    Re post 11 and trevthetrainer no I am not American, I am from Northern Ireland.

    Secondly I am afraid your post is incorrect. If the players went to such strides please tell me where poulter and Harrington finished at Gleneagles? The fed ex cash cow means more to players.

    As for the Ryder Cup being "THE" most important European competition. Is this a serious post? Maybe 25 years ago it played a big part in the development of the European Tour but today it is miles behind the Open in terms of importance.

  • Comment number 31.

    McIlroy is certainly a special talent. It is early days in his career but he has the potential to be a great golfer.

  • Comment number 32.

    Seve was great, Rory is likely to be great - greater, I'd say, basing that purely on statistical success on the golf course.

    We'll see, and too early bla bla, but I think Rory's talent is such that he has a shot at Tiger-scale career achievements (although he'll never be as iconic).

    But Rory doesn't remind me of Seve, not one iota. He's a totally different type of player and personality.

    Mickelson more reminds me of Seve.

  • Comment number 33.

    Rory may have captured the public imagination in the same way that Seve did.

    When he has captured as many Majors as Nick Faldo, you'll be able to compare Rory with sirnick also.

    Loads of nonsense regarding the Ryder Cup which is a unique competition, complementary to Majors, surely. Not equal, just different, not to mention the most compelling three (four) days in golf. Just ask Hunter Mahan if its significance has diminished.

  • Comment number 34.

    @ Don247 despite all your "praise" for McIlroy, you just can't help throwing in the "fair weather" comment ca you? Keep sucking on that lemon...

  • Comment number 35.

    @ jamesmatthews also showing his complete ignorance of golf. Seve 6 majors? No, it was 5, the same as your age most likely.

  • Comment number 36.

    #30 MickV17 wrote: If you're from Norn 'Irn did you go down to the K-Club for the RC there? If you did you would clearly understand why it is so important.

    As for Poulter - he most surely had already been told he was in and the Fedex field was much stronger than the European field so a win in Europe probably wouldn't have got Paddy into the team. He couldn't qualify on points and a W was his only option - a slim one at that.

    The Open is a Major TOURNAMENT & without doubt has the pedigree and prestige to withstand any alternative competition. The RC is an entirely different type of COMPETITION (read my post again if you need to) and the popularity of it is still demonstrated by the recent poor imitations of it between USA & the ROW, GB&I & Europe, etc., etc. These lesser competitions have been spawned by the RC and its standing in global golf. If you don't believe me just ask Sky (other broadcasters available) for the viewing figures after the RC. Non golfers watch the RC because it is so special.

  • Comment number 37.

    Well firstly Ian is comparing young Rory with young Seve - not Rory with complete career record & influence that Seve had on golf - for that we have to wait another 12 years or so when Rory is in his mid 30's. And on that comparison Rory is the most exciting young European golfer to emerge since Seve - both in golfing terms & personality. Yes their games are different and Seve hadn't won 2 majors by age 23 but for sheer excitement I loved watching Seve just as much as I love watching Rory today.

    It's not all about majors but generally the world uses that for different age comparisons and we have:

    Nicklaus 18
    Woods 14
    Hagen 11
    Player 9
    Hogan 9
    Watson 8
    Palmer 7
    Snead 7
    Sarazen 7
    Jones 7
    Vardon 7
    Faldo 6
    Trevino 6
    Nelson 5
    Ballesteros 5

    Looking at that list makes it even more amazing that Jack Nicklaus won 18 majors competing against Player, Watson, Palmer, Trevino, Ballesteros - all legends in their own right. Not to mention others like Ray Floyd, Johnny Miller, Tony Jacklin, Billy Casper, Hubert Green, Dave Stockton, David Graham, Andy North, Sandy Lyle, Fuzzy Zoeller, Larry Nelson who each won at least 2 majors

  • Comment number 38.

    One more thing

    Rory McIlroy now has six PGA Tour wins - the same number that Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros managed in their entire careers.

    Just saying :-)

  • Comment number 39.

    Don good to see the self enforced retirement seems to have come to a stop good points, the fair weather thing that was picked up on made me smile especially as Rory by his own admission is a fair weather player and who can blame him. Florida or Fife not difficult is it.
    Don whats your take on Westy going to Tony Johnstone? Lee seems to be suiting playing under the radar a bit imo,as the pressure of being world number one has gone and the attention is on Rory and Tiger he can get on with playing golf.I think he will be a pivotal player in the european team especially with his long straight driving and great iron play.

  • Comment number 40.

    Got to agree Trev - The Ryder Cup is special, I see no loss of importance or prestige. Ryder Cup vs The Majors? There is literally no competition, they are just different.

    Ben Dirs (Yes that really is his name for those who haven't heard of him) recently stated the The Ryder Cup is So Special because its pretty much the only competition that never fails to deliver, that is so true, there are better Ryder Cups and there are worse Ryder cups but there are no bad Ryder Cups, thats what makes it great

  • Comment number 41.

    #8 - youwhat

    Are you actually that sad?! Or are you Carter in disguise...?

    Incidentally I offered my opinion on the outcome which is a totally different context to Ian's pyschcic talents....

  • Comment number 42.

    A bit left of centre, but I've been reading/informed that Rory had agreed to be on the British team for the Olympics in 2016. Now he's backtracked and Is undecided, bad reporting, bad management or (dare I say It scaremongering!...Iain even posted this).

    I think we can all accept that Rory is playing some fabulous golf at the moment, and is a worthy number 1 by far, given the last 4 weeks!
    I have to say that (as Don has touched on) we need to see Rory perform on hard & fast tracks; both Opens! That's where you'll need everything around the green!
    But I think he's got It in him If he continues the way he's playing at the moment, and appreciates that's the way to keep improving.

  • Comment number 43.

    I fear that this FEDEX circus could have a negative impact on McIlroy - he is carrying all the pressure going into the last event, and winning takes its toll emotionally. I just wonder if he will be able to get himself back up for Ryder Cup, although it won't be through lack of intent or determination. Olazabel will need to ensure that McIlroy isn't burnt out by Sunday's singles matches.

  • Comment number 44.

    Matt, If anything i'd suggest its actually a case of bad interpretation (He never said he was going to play for team GB) along with probably a bad reaction from a dissapointingly closed minded minority. As Englishmen we dont fully understand the passions that nationality arouses in that part of the world.

    Remember not too long ago Trev got very irate at Iain Carter for even raising the issue

  • Comment number 45.

    My memories of Seve in Ryder Cup action centre on his heroics at Oak Hill in 1995 and it still fills me with such admiration for the guts the guy had.
    The legend was not on his game, and I recall him blasting the driver all over the course, rarely troubling the fairway. Yet, he still took David Guildford under his wing and guided the average golfer to a stirring win in the fourballs. Acting like the headmaster to a young school boy. Seve knocked Guildford's hat off after hugging him so hard following a massive putt holed for a win. I can still see the look of shock on Guildford's face.

    Then, his finest hour, put out first in the singles because the Europeans knew he would lose, so bad was his game that week from the tee he was the sacrificial lamb.

    Yet, he chipped in for par on the first, and through a series of rescue shots from places no one else could go if they tried, he gave Tom Lehman a real fright, before losing in the last few holes. The spirit he showed, I believe, took his team-mates by surprise and spurred them on to great things. They continued the fight and the result was Europe's. Still up there with the best night's sport viewing I ever had. I still play bad golf and go in rough and trees, but always use Seve as my lead forfinding a way back on the fairway and green. Long live the king of golfing genius.

  • Comment number 46.

    You can talk of his prowess, his imagination and his leadership all you like, but let's not forget one important and obvious attribute that Seve had and few other (if any!) professional golfers have: he was gorgeous!

    I was reminded of that fact one Tuesday morning when my elderly playing partner set herself up to drive the ball down the first fairway. Some people maintain good tempo with the words 'one-and-two" or some such trick, but not her.
    "Seve-ree-ano-o" (backswing)
    "Baya" (begin downswing, but in Spanish)
    "STAIR-RODS!!" (contact and finish).
    'It's a beautiful fluid rhythm', she said, seeing my wide-eyed expression. I must admit her swing is rather nice.


    A straw poll in the clubhouse later revealed that many a woman began to take an interest in televised golf, and then attending golf tournaments, because of Seve - he was so darn handsome, manly and sexy, they agreed. The more risks he took and the more his emotions burst to the surface, the more attractive he became.

    I'm working on my own swing mantra:
    "Roar-ee" (backswing)
    "Ma" (change direction)
    "KILL" (contact)
    "Roy" (finish)

    It results in a cute but aggressive drive, and is still a work in progress.

  • Comment number 47.

    Ryder Cup not important? Having a laugh. I live in the USA currently and it's all people can talk about. Rory is definitely a once in a generation player. I'm just glad that I am around to see him play, watching Tiger was good, but when you grew up a short drive from Rorys house seeing him on the world stage is even more special.

    Don, thanks for some rational points on Rors ;)

  • Comment number 48.

    @Jimmy......I totally agree with you. Being from a city that has massive Irish roots It is a "touchy" subject. I think Iain (given his position) should know better though before tweeting so-called "rumours"!

  • Comment number 49.

    Matt1878, I do get totally fed up when people raise this pointless garbage. Rory, G-Mac, Paddy, Darren, etc, are all SPORTSMEN and do their best to steer clear of the useless nonsense of politics. Darren even put his time and talents into help organise the transport arrangements for the Irish Open this year because he so wanted the tournament to be a fantastic SPORTING spectacle for anyone who was going to it.

    Politics and sport don't mix - with the possible exception of Seb Coe who did a fantastic job of the Olympics. I don't give a fiddlers if Rors plays for team Ireland or team GB. IT DOESN'T MATTER! We'll cheer him on no matter what shirt he wears. We had folk competing at the Olympics and Paralympics for both teams and we're proud of them all.

    Unfortunately, there will be idiots who try and make a point of it but, well, they're just imbecilic twits (other more suitable names available).

    For now I'm just glad that the world #1 comes from this side of the Atlantic and he's playing for the European team in the Ryder Cup.

  • Comment number 50.

    @Trev..I agree, but I can't make out If you're having a go at me mate?

  • Comment number 51.

    Trev well said politics and many things dont mix, Lord Coe I think we can make an exception for. Golf at the Olympics will be good for the game of golf and thats all that matters.

  • Comment number 52.

    Foolish to compare Mcilroy to Seve, because they're chalk and cheese. Two completely different types of player. Its better to compare Mcilroy to great ball-strikers rather than great short-game players.

    He still needs to win more; right now he's on the same number of majors as Andy North, which doesn't sound impressive.

  • Comment number 53.

    Trev - I'm at a disadvantage in so much as i am not in anyway subject to the passions that the whole matter arouses, however i am at an advantage of being able to look at it totally dispassionatly.

    The problem is that whilst golf is generally individual, when it enters the olympics it will be representative, and therefore Mcilroy, if selected (Which he obviously will be as things stand) will have to make a decision. Therefore this isnt a hypothetical debate that can be swept under the carpet or ignored. Surely a sensible reasoned debate to combat the twits (nice use of understatement) is better than sticking your head in the sand and letting the twits hold the stage.

    I'm also not concerned as to which side he chooses, the sad thing would be if he ended up compelled to play for neither.

  • Comment number 54.

    Come on guys lets leave the Olympic debate for another time (4 years). Just rejoice in the fact that the best player in the world at this moment is a European. With the exception of the temporary (I hope) dip in form of Gmac, the European team looks in great shape. USA appear to have more worries in their team, look at the form of Bradley, Kuchar, Simpson, Snedeker At the BMW.

  • Comment number 55.

    McIlroy has certainly got the aura and I reckon that this will only increase over the next few years. You just can't see him not winning a handful of majors at least. But, I think he will need to maintain his temperament. I saw him in May at the PGA Championship and well, he couldn't have cared less during that second round. If someone had whisked him away to a desert island I don't think he would have cared one little bit. Funny old game and it just shows how quickly things can turn around!

  • Comment number 56.

    Why on earth are you spoiling a good read. You boys know nothing about the situation!! You have a few pints of Guiness @ Kellys.......and think we want to hear your viewpoint Mutt and Jim. Well we certainly do not.........KEEP OFF THE SUBJECT PLEASE.

    Well done Trev the Trainer.

  • Comment number 57.

    After moving away from home I started playing golf for the first time and of course being hooked. I watched it on tv for the first time with attention. My first tournaments were Lytham 87. Any other day Nick Price would have won he lost to an incredible 65 the Ryder cup in America. I liked Woosnam as I am welsh and not tall. But my hero Seve. I was then loaned a copy of the 85 Ryder cup an excellent BBC video. My favourite moments are P.Allis saying about him" nonchalantly reaches in the bag for the putter" on the 10th tee after driving the green with a proper wood! Seve's comeback against Tom kite in singles. He launches a 3 wood on the par 5 to be just off in two and chips in for 3. Genius.

  • Comment number 58.

    @56....Who's spoiling what??? You'll need to elaborate on that!

  • Comment number 59.

    When asked to explain why he hadn't won more Majors I remember Seve replying that he regarded the herculean effort put into the Ryder Cup as tantamount to winning several other "Majors" and he had a point.
    If any one player changed an entire sport for a nation, a continent and a generation it was Seve. Rory is already a great player and may win many more Majors than Seve did but to compare the two is absurd. Seve was a trailblazer, a pioneer and a talisman.....his genius paving the way for a culture that has allowed players like Rory to flourish.

  • Comment number 60.

    Who says Rory can't be a trend setter like Seve? He has another 20 years left at the top :)

  • Comment number 61.

    Good article. Saying that, Vijay was definitely worth a mention. I only wish I would have the same flexibility to swing like him, so close to 50 and all.

  • Comment number 62.

    i just realised what some of you have been talking about and i was way off! i thought Rory was Welsh for about the last 4 years!!! oops

  • Comment number 63.

    Doh, Sparticus... how 'dim' are you - call yourself a golf fan. There is a clue in his name... MC-ilroy! Obviously he's Scottish.

    Also well done to Britain's Andy Murray - great stuff, well done!

  • Comment number 64.

    Seve was simply the best, not in terms of majors or tournaments won but what he did to a sport which was moribund in Europe one which was dominated by the USA. He brought passion, charisma god given talent a incredible desire to win, never to give up and an inner belief that he transmitted to others like Paul Way, Christy O'Connor, David Gilford, Ollie etc. That turned them from good or great players into world beaters. So if you want to measure someone by tournaments won Seve might not be the greatest, but the reason he is the greatest is because he was so so much more than that. Rory has a lot to lve up to so far so good.

  • Comment number 65.

    TheRealJimmy, going early with picks this week. I take it is only the European or are you including the seniors in the USA.
    Italian
    Colsaerts
    Weisberger
    Mannassero.

  • Comment number 66.

    Just to follow up on my arguement on how Luke and Lee Westwood were not "real" world number ones and how Rory our first "real" number one since Tiger.

    Rory has 2 majors and won more PGA events in the last month then Lee has in his whole career....also this year he has won 1 PGA event short of Luke's career total.

    Luke and Lee will be remembered as good golfers...never great...Rory is Great!
    Luke and Lee should be thankful they can even say they were "number 1" in the world as we all know they never really were.

  • Comment number 67.

    Matt - Sorry, I'm definitely not having a pop at your good self. Just the typical (daily) Mail (on Sunday) nonsense. The olympics have just finished and Rio is 4 years away so dear knows who the form players will be and what selection criteria will be used.

    Jimmy - As (probably) a GUI member Rory may well have no choice in the matter. If the Team GB players are picked from the English, Welsh & Scottish Unions then that's it. Done deal. I'm just annoyed that there is this very special and talented young man and the media are already trying to pick holes in him. As he says on Twitter (other social networks available) today he would have hoped that winning 3 out of 4 with one of them a Major would have been the talking point, not where he was born.

    It's no wonder SirNick thanked the Media from 'the heart of his bottom'. (Moderators, that is a quote from a golfing Icon so you can't block it)

    As an aside if Team GB is picked from the other 3 golf unions will Paul Lawrie be one of the team members? He looks like going on for ever - and good for him!!!!!

  • Comment number 68.

    #66 jamesmathew
    Interesting argument - the only flaw being that, as we all know, they _were_ both number 1 (according to the Official World Golf Rankings). They have nothing to be thankful for as they got there through talent and hard work.

    I'm sorry everyone, I know I should have just ignored it.

  • Comment number 69.

    #66 Jamesmathew - Just read the statistics. It doesn't matter what your personal view is because Luke & Lee WERE DEFINITELY #1 IN THE WORLD RANKINGS. As Alexander (other meerkats available) would say - Simples!

  • Comment number 70.

    #68 & #69

    Yes technically they were world number ones....technically!

    Just like technically England and Scotland are part of the same country and neither are actual countries.

    But we all know that just cos of some loop hole things exist doesn't mean that they are.

  • Comment number 71.

    If the world rankiNgs are anything to go by we are in for a stellar RC. Rory, lee and Luke 1,3 & 4. All 24 participants in the top 35. Rory now has a points average of 12.80 the first time someone has been this high since Tiger in his pomp. 17 days to go to the greatest show on earth. Bring it on!

  • Comment number 72.

    #70 - so according to your logic (sic), yesterday when he woke up Andy Murray was a "good" player but this morning has woken up a "great". What a fickle world you live in ....

  • Comment number 73.

    #72 Well Andy Murray isn't world number one so thats a diff argument. But ye I believe that to become 'great' you need to win the biggest events against the best players in the sport. Something Luke nor Lee ever managed.

  • Comment number 74.

    #70 James. My old geography teacher used to remind us that the countries of England and Scotland are part of the (united) Kingdom (of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).

    You might be confusing yourself with Rene Descartes' "Je pense donc je suis" or in your own case Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum - "I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am". You definitely 'doubt' - not sure about the thinking bit.

  • Comment number 75.

    Congratulations Rory - having missed several cuts around May/June and looking completely out of sorts he turned it around through seemingly redidicating himself to his practice and his game now he's reaping the rewards. He's already a great player and only better he will get.

    Also have to give props to his caddie JP Fitzgerald - flies under the radar but such an important man in the McIlroy camp. After the criticism he received after the Masters last year, bet he's loving this right now.

  • Comment number 76.

    #74 So England and Scotland are NOT countries?
    and David Beckham is NOT English but he is British the same as Andy Murray?

    Is that correct?

  • Comment number 77.

    Since rugby and golf are 'new again' to the Olympics, a possible solution to the debate could be a 'British and Irish Lions' concept. This could help the players not having to make the choice. We are well used to supporting the Lions every 4yrs! So maybe this could be a solution.

  • Comment number 78.

    What's everyone's thoughts on the way the FedEx has been set up. There's an article on the PGA tour site that gives all the different scenarios for each of the 30 to win it, even Piercy at 30th. For this to be a playoff series IMO this could have been even more exciting if each event had reduced the field from 150 to 100 to 70 to 30 depending on where each finished in each tournament. Players would have to play to their best each week and wouldn't be able to chose one to miss.

  • Comment number 79.

    5.
    At 15:47 10th Sep 2012, Sparticus wrote:


    Outrageous claim to compare him to Seve, lets see how he gets on for another year

    ----

    Is it? He has two majors already at 23. Exactly the same as Seve. He has three years to win a third to match Seve - would anyone bet against Rory not winning in that time??

    Seve is the benchmark for European talent and youthful promise. Nick Faldo is the benchmark for delivering consistent success. Rory is set up at this stage to surpass both - there's no reason looking at his attitude and conditioning (let alone a lack of obviously more gifted contemporaries) to not think he'll achieve that.

  • Comment number 80.

    Trev - I'll leave that one to be a sleeping dog for now. It will be reawakened many more times i have no doubt, but not by me.

    @78 - I dont like the Fed-ex, I will grant that it brings the best players in the world together and we get to watch some quality fields at a time of year when historically we might not expect to. And that is a major plus point.

    I cant help but feel that as a format it is flawed, there is no other deserving winner than Mcilroy, Overall he as been the best player this year, despite the mid-summer blip, and he has been the best player in the Play-Offs. If anyone else wins overall, its by default.

  • Comment number 81.

    Sorry WCIHIS. In Answer to your question, I think we'll just stick with the Euro event

  • Comment number 82.

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

  • Comment number 83.

    Rory seems a very nice, down to earth guy who is very proud of his Northern Ireland roots. He supports the international football team, and has put in a reported 250k of his own money into the Ulster rugby team to help them become one of the top teams in Europe. So i can understand his allegiance to, in supporting team GB for the next games in Rio, but regarding which team he plays for in the next Olympics will depend were he stands in the world rankings come Rio. If he is still ranked in the top 3 in Britain he will play for them, if not then he play for Ireland!!

  • Comment number 84.

    Northern Irish isn't a nationality just like English isn't....Rory should off course play for team GB as that is his nationality. England, Scotlish, Welsh and Northern Irish are just an idea...they are not countries or nationalities. The days of England is long gone.

  • Comment number 85.

    WCIHIS Re Fedex cup its all about keeping the US gravy train rolling to the end of the summer and unlike the RTD the fedex is can be won by one big win in the final tournament, so although Rory has won 2 of the fed ex final tournaments about 5 other players can pip him to the pot by winning the final tournament seems a bit daft to me.
    Its all about Finchem maintaining the control and keeping the players in the US.
    The Ryder cup got moved due to this over hyped play off series that no one really seems to understand, as Finchem dont care about the Ryder cup as there is nothing in it for him and his tour.

  • Comment number 86.

    I still cant believe how such a big deal is made about the world rankings, they reward the most consisstant performers hence Tiger was up there for so long. To say that Lee, Luke, and Kaymer were not true number ones is laughable. At the time they were number they were winning and placing top tens regularly so the gained the right to be number one.Has Bubba done much since winning his major, no has he profitted healthily from it most probably, but is he a better golfer than Lee or Luke answer that one??

  • Comment number 87.

    The Real Jimmy picks for you mine first then mr Suitcase as he has requested that I put them on for him, hope thats ok and within the rule book (bmg take note)
    Actually where is our author friend writing the sequel??

    picks me Rob Rock, pablo Larrazabel, Richie Ramsey



    picks Suitcase F Molinari, nic Colsaerts, thorbjorn, Olesen

  • Comment number 88.

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

  • Comment number 89.

    Rory should take some heart from teh way Seve galvanised Europe and try and adapt that to try and galvanise Ireland

    for whatever reason they all seem to want to have a fight now and again - and poor Rory it seems is going to get mud thrown at him from which ever quarter he doesnt represent at the olympics should he be chosen

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    if thats the case then he will have no problems in signing a contract to fight him then will he.

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    Comparisons, as Dogberry said in 'Much Ado About Nothing', are odorous. Let us just rejoice in the wealth of talent in golf at the moment all round. When Faldo and Seve and the other big European guns were in their pomp, it was always the Open and the Masters that were the majors they won. The US Open and, particularly, the US PGA were considered harder nuts to crack, only Jacklin with the US Open in 1970 breaking the mould, and more recently Harrington with the US PGA in 2008. Yet McIlroy has pocketed these two 'difficult' majors first, and must surely be odds on to become the first European to win a career grand slam. The US PGA is always rather condescendingly referred to as the 4th major, as though it is not quite in the same league as the other three. In fact, it invariably has, judged by the world rankings, where the top 100 qualify, the strongest field of all four majors. For McIlroy to win it by 8 shots (as with the US Open the year before at Congressional) is almost beyond belief. At his best he is a very special talent.

  • Comment number 94.

    "Best player since Seve"!

    Are we now just ignoring Nick Faldo's career and achievements. Given Faldo's results (especially in the majors but also the Ryder Cup, European Tour and USPGA tour), he is the benchmark against which all European golfers should be compared.

  • Comment number 95.

    11.At 16:56 10th Sep 2012, trevthetrainer wrote:
    #7 MickV17 wrote:

    As for the Ryder Cup..... I think that the importance of this match has diminished.

    Really? Are you an American? In Europe this is still THE most important golf competition as shown by the efforts of people trying to make the team and wanting to be involved.

    The Ryder cup has to thread a very fine line between pub entertainment and a professional golf tournament.

  • Comment number 96.

    The debate over who McIlroy should represent is totally pointless. Anyone who engages in a conversation on it is letting themselves down very badly.

  • Comment number 97.

    # 94

    you are assuming Iain Carter thinks Seve is better thank Faldo - please point out where in his article he said that

    and he says best young talent, not the best european golfer ever!

    dont jump to conclusions please thanks.

  • Comment number 98.

    I know o got slated for this once.

  • Comment number 99.

    But it has to be done.

  • Comment number 100.

    Here's to page

 

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