Youth “Rors” at Quail Hollow; McIlroy’s 62 caps fantastic week for golf
For all the talk of golf needing Tiger Woods to survive and thrive, a couple final rounds in Charlotte and Nagoya, Japan, may have given fans a preview of what golf could be like without the game’s greatest player. And if Sunday was in fact the preview of things to come, it’s safe to say the game is in really good hands.
After 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa went out and fired a final round 12-under 58 to capture the Crowns Tournament in Japan, 20-year-old Rory McIlroy did his best to one-up the Japanese sensation with a final round 10-under 62 that had the entire PGA Tour buzzing on Sunday afternoon.
If you want an example of how great McIlroy’s performance was in relation to Ishikawa’s, imagine Magic Johnson going for 60 points, 20 rebounds and 30 assists in a game, only to watch Larry Bird go for 70/30/40 later that night. It was that kind of day. McIlroy not only tied Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as the youngest ever winner on the PGA Tour, he did it in dramatic fashion against one of the deepest fields of the year.
Quail Hollow, also considered to be the “fifth major” on tour, has become a launching pad for young golf careers. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise to see a young sensation like McIlroy capture the title. Anthony Kim (24) and Sean O’Hair (27) were the most recent winner at the Charlotte event.
But as great as Anthony Kim’s win was a couple of years ago (and it was fantastic), McIlroy’s was far superior on so many levels. Everyone knew it was only a matter of time before the kid from Northern Ireland got his first victory on American soil. After all, he’d won in Duabi 2009, all but cementing his place as one of the up-and-coming stars in the game.
“Rors,” as he’s known to many of his peers on the PGA Tour, was flawless on Sunday. The fireworks began on the back side, after a 32 on the front, as McIlroy went five-under over his last five holes, distancing himself from Mickelson in the process.
After draining everything in sight all day, McIlroy dropped a 42-foot bomb on 18 to a thunderous roar from the gallery. It was the kind of roar only two players in the world get when they win. One of them was sitting at home on his couch on Sunday after missing the cut; the other was choking on McIlroy’s dust.
It was a career defining win not just for the beaming 20-year-old, but also for the sport. If game needed a little reassurance that it has the horses to carry it into the future, it definitely got it on Sunday.