With back to back wins in the Fed Ex playoffs and 4 Tour wins this year including a Major, Rory McIlroy is looking more and more like the ‘next Tiger’. Lots of pundits have tried to anoint who would be the next golf superstar, but are any of us really qualified to do that? Perhaps the only person who can rightly crown the next Tiger is Tiger Woods himself and, if his actions over the last weeks are any indication, he may be just doing that.
During all his years dominating the Tour and breaking record after record we have seen only one Tiger, the guy in the zone who doesn’t smile and who’s only comment to the press was ‘I’m here to win’. He was the next Jack Nicklaus, the cold blooded master of the links, the guy who’d just as soon beat you by 20 strokes as by 1.
Jack Nicklaus never looked like he enjoyed golf. He loved to win but play a casual round of golf for the fun of it? Never. And it shows in his retirement. He admits he rarely plays these days, whereas Arnold Palmer never lets a day go by without banging a few balls. During Tiger’s dominance he rarely, and I mean maybe once a year, cracked a smile on the course. The course was a place for serious work only, you take no prisoners and you certainly don’t enjoy yourself – you GRIND!
In the last couple of weeks the almost unheard of is now commonplace when Tiger plays with none other that Mr. McIlroy. He jokes around, laughs a lot and actually seems to enjoy golf even if he isn’t torching every other player on the course. And who better for Tiger to strike up his first on course bromance with than the guy who may someday challenge his records.
Rory is having a year like Tiger did in his hey day. It’s too soon for any of us to pronounce him anything other than a great young golfer who MAY do great things. But it certainly looks like Tiger sees something in Rory that hasn’t happened before. Could the friendship be because sees in Rory himself as a young superstar, someone who can runaway with Majors and hit unbelievable shots when it counts? Only time will tell, but who better to make the pronouncement than Tiger himself!