As resident golf guy Bennygloves has pointed out, and I have echoed, the game of golf has never been stronger. The current era may not have the personalities of Trevino and Arnie, or the superstar aura of Jack and Tiger — let’s face it, a majority of the top guys today are essentially golf swing robots — but they are, as a group, better, deeper and more talented than ever.
Benny is going to have more on the overall state of golf later in the week, but I’m going to kick off our 18 Day Masters Preview (get it, 18 days…18 Holes…clever, huh?) with something on Rory McIlroy.
What Rory McIlroy did yesterday was pretty damn impressive. Starting the day off 2 strokes off the lead, he hung a 64, while the next best score on the day was 67. He birdied 5 of the last 6 holes. Granted, it’s Bay Hills, not Augusta, but going 8-under on Sunday is no joke either way. When a guy drops 50, he gets credit even if it’s not in the Finals. Four home runs in a July game is still a feat. So let’s not completely write off Rory’s Sunday.
It wasn’t just the result that had my eyes open, though. It was the way McIlroy did it. Tied for the lead, on the 13th hole, this is what Rory managed to do:
13th: Drained a 16 foot birdie putt from the fringe
14th: Buried a 21 footer for Birdie
15th: Chipped in for birdie
16th: Standing on the tee with a 2 stroke lead, instead of playing conservative, he sent his tee shot into orbit, finally returning to earth 373 yards away…putting him in position for an eventual tap in birdie
He finished up with a par on 17, and then, with human rain delay Bryson DeChambeau within one stroke, knocked down a 25 footer on the 18th for bird. NAILS.
*Putts from 15-25 feet are expected to be made less than 20% of the time.
This was his first win in a year and a half, but this is what Rory is (or can be). When he’s on, he’s the best driver of the ball on tour…and it is not particularly close. But he’s also capable of being the best putter on tour. When he has the flat stick working, like he did yesterday, he’s almost unstoppable.
That’s the recipe that saw him win 4 majors in the 3 year span- Phil and Tiger are the only guys on tour with more majors- and puts his ceiling higher than anyone else in the field.
There is nothing Rory can’t do on a golf course. It’s just a matter of keeping it together. Everyone remembers his shank at Augusta, his WD for a “tooth ailment” that seemed to coincide with his break-up, his struggles with equipment changes, his complaints about weather, tricked up US Open Courses and just this week about fans being too rowdy…seriously, golf fans? He has had some moments where he is a complete basket case.
This guy needs to just clear his head and play. Because, I think, if everyone on tour plays their absolute best games for a whole tournament, Rory wins it by at least 3 strokes.
That’s who this guy is. Potentially a “Pantheon” type guy. An All-Time great. He should finish with 10 or more Majors.
It’s just up to him to remember that.