Rory McIlroy is the new phenom of the PGA tour. Rory is one day shy of 21. He’s from the little country of Ireland and has won professional golf tournaments all over the world. He became the PGA Tour’s youngest winner since Tiger Woods this Sunday against one of the best fields of great players at the Quail Hollow Championship, one of the most challenging courses on tour. He shot a record breaking 62.
While Rory was staring down the great Phil Mickelson to win his tournament, Ryo Ishikawa was shooting a 58 to win a major Japanese tournament. And Ryo is the grand old age of 18!
There is added significance to all this. A new breed of superstar golfer was born yesterday. They are young, they are bold, and they are hungry. As Arnold Palmer was ending his great professional career, he said to me, “it’s harder to keep your interest as the years advance.”
There is a price to pay to be among the elite golfers in the world. It’s very hard for golfers to sustain that level. Look at the records of the great Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Watson and you’ll see that their great victories came at the early to middle parts of their careers. Tiger is approaching 35. We don’t know if he can reach the levels he has reached in the past. Many golfers think he played his best golf 6 or 7 years ago. With the hits he’s taken over the last 6 months, the embarrassment, the public bloodbath, will he be able to regain that finite mental and physical focus that one must have to be the elite player of the world?
While he is figuring that out, two fresh-faced Irish and Japanese young men have announced that they are ready to compete at the highest level.