Not only did the kid win in a landslide (by eight strokes), he also did so in historic fashion. His 16-under par score was the most ever in the U.S. Open.
That was what was so amazing about McIlroy. U.S. Opens are supposed to be extremely difficult, challenging and humbling, yet this kid made the course look like a Putt-Putt.
Having said that, let’s not crown this kid too soon. Sure this kid was one meltdown at the Masters away from having two majors this year. Sure this kid is also humble and loose on the course, a stark, welcoming contrast from Tiger Woods.
But there is only one Tiger. Tiger was not only a winning machine, he turned a lot of people into casual golf fans at the very least .
Look, I am not a fan of Eldrick “Tiger” Woods. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t give two damns about golf until Tiger won the Masters in 1997 by 1,000 strokes. I loved the way he intimidated the hell out of the other golfers. It seemed to be always Tiger vs. the field in every major tournament, if there is one thing I love in sports, is dominance. It also didn’t hurt that he is not only an American, but an American of COLOR. Let’s be honest, we were all accustomed to older white dudes (American or European) winning title after title.
While McIlroy is a special player who will win more future major tournaments, he has not captured the fascination of the average golf fan. We are not going to be “McIlroy-ized” the same way we were “Tiger-ized” (terms courtesy of ESPN’s Mike Greenberg). It hurts McIlroy that he is a European player, and last I checked Americans do not give a damn about Europeans in any sport.
The only thing that will change that perception of McIlroy is if he wins more – as in at least five to six more – majors. Otherwise, he will become no better than the next Phil Mickleson.