As Rory McIlroy took a lead into the final round of the PGA Championship yesterday, it was hard not to think back to another time McIlroy took such a lead into Sunday at a Major: the 2011 Masters. In that event, Rory played three rounds of inspired golf only to turn in the single worst round by any three round leader of the Masters in history. His 80 that day was good enough for 15th, marking the beginning of a roller coaster chapter of his career that would find Rory doing everything from winning the 2011 U.S. Open, to missing three out of four cuts at tournaments this year. The 2011 meltdown at Augusta also cast some doubts about Rory’s ability to finish in the clutch.
But those doubts have been set aside for now, as Rory did not slow down on his way to a historic victory in South Carolina. As many fans nervously waited for Rory to start losing his composure, the 23 year old calmly roped 350+ yard drives down the center of the fairway, and drained every putt in sight. By the time Rory capped off his performance with a gratuitously perfect 20-foot birdie on 18, he had set records for youngest winner of the PGA Championship, and largest margin of victory in that event.
Quite simply, Rory McIlRoy was the best golfer on the planet last week. Period.
The performance drew immediate comparisons to Tiger Woods’ dominating showing at the 2000 U.S. Open, in which Tiger won by 15 strokes and was the only golfer under par. Rory’s victory is by no means as impressive as what Tiger did that year, but it could be a sign of many more big victories to come for the young Northern Irishman.
Tiger finished 11th in this latest event, if you were wondering.
The question now is, how many Majors will Rory McIlroy win? Although such speculation is somewhat ridiculous, one thing is definitely clear: Rory McIlroy is a true golfing talent. Very few players in history have enjoyed his combination of incredible power and consistency around the greens. If he continues to improve and doesn’t fall back into the habits that left him in shambles at Augusta last year, Rory will be collecting major championships for many years to come.
How many majors will Rory McIlroy win in his career?
Noah Weber is a regular sports blogger for Operation Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @gobluenoah.