Okay, that’s a bit of an overstatement. Sure, Tiger Woods was missed at the PGA Championship. The TV ratings will reflect that.
But anyone who did watch Sunday’s final round of the PGA Championship at Louisville’s Valhalla Golf Club saw a classic won by the game’s newest superstar, Rory McIlroy.
It already is being talked about in the same breath as the ’60 U.S. Open with Arnold Palmer outdueling Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus and the ’75 Masters with Nicklaus out gunning Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf.
Like those classics, this one was won by a guy who one day may find his name near the top of the first page on any list of the game’s greatest ever. Obviously it’s too early to put McIlroy in the discussion with Nicklaus and Woods as the greatest ever or even seriously debate the merits of him belonging in the discussion of the top 10 all-time with the likes of Palmer, Snead, Jones, Watson, Hagen, Nelson, etc.
But it isn’t too early to consider the possibility of what the future may hold for the young man from Northern Ireland. Only Woods and Nicklaus had four major titles at a younger age than the 25-year-old McIlroy. The PGA was McIlroy’s second straight major victory and third straight tournament victory. He earned this one the hard way, by grinding out a victory with Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and budding star Ricky Fowler, among others, nipping at his heels.
There was drama galore with McIlroy leading when the day started, then falling behind by as many as three shots and then putting on a shotmaking performance for the ages coming down the stretch. No one among the top contenders played the final nine holes better than the champ.
From start to finish the leader board was crowded with today’s best players, young and old. Mickelson actually shared the lead at one point. Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Steve Stricker lingered. So did Jason Day and Adam Scott.
The TV cameras could hardly keep up with the superb shots being made. This major championship wasn’t about surviving as so many are. Indeed, on this day eagles were soaring, birdies were flying and putts were falling.
It was great golf by a bunch of outstanding golfers. Certainly for one afternoon at a major championship Tiger wasn’t on anyone’s mind.
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