The Rory McIlroy-Fest
The PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, ended with a non-climactic finish yesterday afternoon.
I was playing some golf of my own up in north Texas with my father, so I got to watch the final round of the PGA once I returned home to Austin.
And when I watch the final round of a major, I can tell you I typically watch the whole round, start to finish, which is at least four hours.
I also had to place myself in a news blackout starting around 3 PM CST.
Driving south back to Austin, I realized the radio news might give the winner away, so I turned Puccini’s “Tosca” on my iPhone and listened to it while navigating the slow southbound traffic.
Once home I warmed up the DVR and settled in, and I quickly realized the last round was about to become another Rory McIlroy-fest. If you saw what he did in the U.S. Open at Congressional last summer, you realize all Rory needs is a little winding up in those high performance gears before he starts golfing like a phenom, and that’s what happened yesterday afternoon on Kiawah Island.
Yes, Carl Petterson, and Adam Scott, and even Tiger Woods, weren’t completely out of the mix after finishing the third round and moving on to the fourth and final round in the late morning.
But Rory was like a fine BMW sedan whose upper end just needs a little punch of the gas to speed up and settle in to the highway, leaving everyone else in its dust.
Also, it wasn’t just one part of his game that was making the difference, as is often the case with a championship caliber player.
Rory’s drives were threading the waves of the Ocean Course, his mid-irons were mostly finding their targets with great precision, and when they weren’t that close, his putter was picking up the slack.
He simply looked like Tiger Woods in his hey day — and as we saw at Congressional, when he gets wound up like that, he simply can’t be stopped and is playing a whole different level of golf than we mere mortals.
For all those who’ve been watching the Olympics in London these past two weeks, and marveling at the performances of all the great athletes…well, that’s kind of how many of we golf fans feel when we watch Rory (or any great player) turning it on in a round like that.
By the way, Rory broke yet another record, one that belonged to Jack Nicklaus: The largest margin of victory in a PGA Championship (his was seven, and McIlroy’s yesterday was 8, at 13 under).
In the PGATour.com’s wrap-up, Tiger Woods summed up McIlroy’s potential as a player like this: “When he gets going, it’s pretty impressive to watch.”
Uh, yeah, ya think? But I guess coming from the former world number one, those are still potent words.
So, congratulations, Rory. You were a tour de force in a major once again, and if you play anywhere that well in the Ryder Cup, the U.S. has that much less of a chance in taking back the Cup.
Regardless, Medinah’s going to be some seriously compelling, but nerve-wracking golf.