Golf fans have reason to get excited once again
As the sun set on the Valhalla Golf Club on Aug. 10 and Rory McIlroy claimed the 2014 PGA Championship, professional golf quietly ushered into a new era. Led by McIlroy, younger players have begun to emerge as poster boys for the sport who can consistently dominate the leaderboard. In doing so, golf can finally flourish in a world without Tiger Woods.
There will never be another Tiger Woods. What he did for the sport is incomparable to any other legendary athlete. Woods took a gentleman’s game and tore it up. With a ferocious backswing and a relentless need to win, he showed the world how cool golf could be. Now, golf courses are littered with Nike polos and golfers trying to perfect their own Tiger-fist-pump. From 1997-2008, when he won the last of his 14 major championships, every time Woods stood on the tee box he expected to win. Woods was a child prodigy that simply lived up to his name. He was a beast; he was a tiger.
Since Woods’ scandalous fall and string of injuries, golf has been waiting for a saviour. As this year’s PGA season begins to wrap up, McIlroy has been golf’s hero to turn to. After two dramatic major championship wins this season, Nike’s new icon from Northern Ireland has gotten golf fans excited.
McIlroy, with a total of four major victories, is only the third player to reach that accomplishment by 25 years old. Appropriately, the two other players are Arnold Palmer and Woods.
It wasn’t the fact that McIlroy won back-to-back major championships this year, but how he won them. In late July, McIlroy won the 2014 British Open Championship. He shot a remarkable 66 in his first two rounds and led the field from start to finish. At Valhalla, after a rain delay and numerous lead changes, McIlroy prevailed once again. With his charismatic Irish accent and flawless yet aggressive swing, McIlroy’s character has that familiar superstar quality.
Will McIlroy replace Woods? No, but he doesn’t have to. Other young golfers such as Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, and future-star Jordan Spieth are stiffening the competition. All under the age of 26, these players will make golf fun to watch for years to come.
Fowler in particular has become another fan favourite for his flair and skill. Known for his bright Puma apparel and childish physique, Fowler looks like he belongs at a skate park rather than on the golf course. Nevertheless, Fowler has proven himself as he’s finished within the top five in all four majors this year and has played the most consistent golf.
Woods is not gone, and while he may win another major in the future, it will not be the same. It will be a happy reminder of what he once was—a curtain call, if you will. Led by McIlroy, golf turns to a legion of younger players that bring their own individuality to the sport. How fitting is it that after a decade of Tiger, golf now has a Ror’.