Rory McIlroy won his semifinal match against European Ryder Cup team member and No. 3-ranked Lee Westwood, but he lost the final to American Hunter Mahan.
Rory is ranked No. 2 in the Official World Golf Rankings and could have claimed the top spot with a win at the WGC-Accenture Match Play last weekend.
McIlroy has been the best player in the world over the past eight months. He had a monumental loss at the 2011 Masters in April but by the U.S. Open in June he figured it out and dominated the field at Congressional to win by eight shots.
In his last 13 events he has nine Top 10s, including two wins. He has always been an excellent putter and is considered to be one of the best drivers of the golf ball. Rory displayed a drastically improved short game at the match play. In his early matches, chip shots and bunker play kept him in contention and allowed him to make it to the finals.
The improved short game is just one more step in Rory’s progression to the top ranking and domination.
Rory is only 22 and has three wins. Tiger Woods had seven wins by the age of 22. He is not yet in Tiger’s league, but he is getting close.
When Tiger joined the tour, he had a mental toughness that was beyond compare. Rory is definitely not mentally tough yet.
He got down early to Lee Westwood and battled back to win the semifinal match. Give Rory an A+ for this match. Rory was focused and clearly motivated to beat his old buddy.
In the final against Hunter Mahan it was evident that Rory had a mental letdown on the front nine. He pulled himself together and made a good run on the back side. The 3-down hole that McIlroy dug himself on the first holes proved to be too much, however, and he came up short in his effort to win the match and claim the No. 1 world ranking.
We are at the beginning of the “Rory McIlroy Era.” He will ascend to the No. 1 spot, he will dominate regular tour events, and he will win several majors. All other golfers will be compared to him just as Tiger has been the measuring stick for the last 14 years.