Tiger Roar-y

March 10, 2012 | Brandon Eyring

Young phenom Rory McIlroy has earned his slot as the current number one ranked golfer in the world according to the Official World Golf Ranking. McIlroy has staked his claim in golf history by being only the second youngest player to be labeled the best golfer on the planet at the age of 22. Of course, Tiger Woods still remains the youngest player to reach number one at 21.

Although Tiger Woods is considered by many the most dominate golfer to ever swing a club, Tiger has not been the same player since his sex scandal in 2009. However, he has been seemingly been regaining his legendary form of late with two top three finishes in the past month after months of struggling.

The intrigue of Rory’s development and the apparent revival of Tiger’s career could spark a golden age for golf. Not since the days of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Watson have golf titans routinely squared off for major championships. Rory McIlroy’s astronomical development as a maturing golfer could pull the best out of Tiger at least for a few more years.

It does not take a golf expert to realize that Woods is descending from his dominate prime years, but it is estimated that a four or five year window is still open for Woods to be a force to reckoned with on the pro tour. Golf historians in 20 or 30 years may look on the next five years as a golden age of the sport, comparable to Nicklaus and Palmer in the 1970’s.

If Rory McIlroy is going to the next behemoth in the sport of golf, people need to know who he is. So, who is Rory McIlroy? Where did he come from?

Rory was born in Northern Ireland in 1989. The prodigy had been introduced to golf at the early age of 18 months-old by his father, Gerry. Rory blossomed into a fine golfer quickly, when he was merely two years old he was driving balls 40 yards and over. McIlroy love for the sport was evidenced to his family when he was a young boy as he received a golf club as a present, shown the proper grip, and took the club to bed that night with the proper grip.

Rory’s parents noticed his exceptional development so they picked up extra jobs to support Rory’s passion which ultimately culminated in his first significant victory at the World Championships in the 9-10 bracket in Miami, Florida.

By age 15, McIlroy was fully fledged in his amateur gold career. He was a member of the victorious 2004 Junior Ryder Cup European team. After record breaking tournament victories in his Irish homeland, Rory won the 2006 European Amateur tournament in Milan, Italy. By the time he was 17, he had already attained the top spot on the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Rory McIlroy became a professional golfer in 2007 at age 17 as he took part on the European Tour. After a successful string of tournament performances in Europe that year, the Irishman entered the top 200 of the Official World Golf Rankings in the 2008 season. He continually progressed in 2009 starting at a world ranking of 50 to finish the season ranked ninth in the world.

Upon joining the American PGA Tour in 2010, McIlroy became the first player since Tiger Woods to win a Tour event before he was legal to drink alcohol with his victory in the Quail Hollow Championship. Rory decided to create more history later that year as he established the lowest-ever first round score (63) at the legendary Old Course at St. Andrew’s during the Open Championship, formerly British Open. McIlroy could not hold onto the lead in that tournament and the perception that he was too immature to finish big tournaments sprouted.

McIlroy broke out with his first of presumptively many major wins with his 2011 U.S. Open victory. He dominated competition by winning the tournament by eight shots by scoring -16 under par. Rory’s 268 aggregate score through 72 holes set an all-time US Open record.

McIlroy’s fine play continued into 2012 which culminated with his victory at the Honda Classic on March 4 that crowned him number one in the world rankings. Tiger surged in the final round, produced the single best performance in his illustrious career with a score of 62 get within a shot of Rory’s lead.

All this momentum is driving to the biggest major tournament of the year on April 5-8, the Masters. With Rory at the top of his game and Tiger playing some of the best golf he has in years, this year’s Masters Tournament could be one of the all-time great displays of golf drama.