Altvater: The ‘Rory McIlroy era’ has arrived. Will Tiger make the Masters?Written by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Luke Donald held the No. 1 spot on the Official World Golf Rankings for 40 weeks. Rory McIlroy, 22, took the No. 1 ranking away from Donald after his win last week on the PGA Tour at the Honda Classic.
Luke won four times worldwide in 2011, amazingly won the money list titles on both the European and PGA Tours, but was never accepted as the true No. 1 golfer in the world.
McIlroy turned professional and joined the European Tour in 2007 at age 17. He only has three European Tour wins, including his win at the 2011 U.S. Open by eight shots, but has amassed eight runner-ups, and 25 Top 10s. He has been runner-up on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai twice, in 2009 and again in 2011.
Rory accepted membership on the PGA Tour for 2012 and will play a minimum of 15 events in the U.S. His win at the Honda is his third official PGA Tour win.
His fellow countryman, Ryder Cup teammate and good friend Graeme McDowell has stated that Rory has the most talent of any golfer on any tour in the world right.
Rory seems to be in contention every week and has finished top five in 11 of the last 12 events in which he has played.
McIlroy is one of the longer players in golf today and is surprisingly accurate with the driver. He also is one of the best iron players on tour. Combine those with his superb putting game, and he churns out low scores week after week.
A perceived weakness in his game was short game play around the greens. He demonstrated a vastly improved chipping acumen at the WGC-Accenture, where his play from just off the greens carried him throughout the early matches into the finals against eventual winner Hunter Mahan.
After his win in Palm Beach, he jetted up to New York, played a little tennis in Madison Square Garden with Maria Sharapova and, oh, yeah, spent some time with his significant other, tennis professional Caroline Wozniacki.
Can anyone fault him for shooting a first round 73 at this week’s PGA stop the WGC-Cadillac at Doral? The poor boy had to be exhausted.
With subsequent rounds of 69-65-67 he posted 14 under par, two shots behind eventual winner Justin Rose. Ho-hum, just another third-place finish and pocket another $500,000.
With Tiger Woods seeming to be steadily improving and becoming a factor again on tour, there has been great anticipation among golf fans of the competition between an aging Woods versus the youthful McIlroy for major titles and future world rankings.
Tiger was in the mix on Sunday but was forced to withdraw with a recurring Achilles tendon problem. After hitting his drive on the 12th tee, he was last seen riding a cart, getting into his car and leaving Doral.
A healthy Tiger Woods is the only golfer right now that can give McIlroy competition. Rory has to be the prohibitive favorite in every tournament that he enters.
Just like a younger Tiger Woods, even when Rory fails to perform at his best he is still in contention and finishes high up on the leader board.
The “Rory Era” has arrived. He is the true No. 1 and will be for the foreseeable future.