There has been much talk of a new era in golf since Rory McIlroy’s runaway win at the U.S. Open at the Congressional club in Bethesda on Sunday.
Actually, for those who follow golf on a week-to-week basis, that era has been underway for some time now and at least since McIlroy won his first professional title, that being the Dubai Desert Classic, in February, 2009.
Well before even that, those who sift and analyze the golf tea leaves were well aware of the fact that here was somebody very special striding down the fairway.
Well, now everybody knows it. In June of that Dubai year, McIlroy secured the tenth place position is his first U.S. Open while a couple of months later he would nail the third place spot in the PGA. Before the year was out he would be ranked in the world top ten.
But it was arguably just over a year ago, in early May 2010, that McIlroy signaled that he would not merely be content with high finishes in U.S. tournaments. He demonstrated this with an astonishing final round 62 that resulted in his first American tour win, the Quail Hollow Championship.
At this point the comparisons with Tiger Woods began to pop up all over the place. But golf harbors its ultimate test in the form of its majors, the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA.
Some of the greatest to ever play the game come and go in their careers without winning a single major. Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie is a standout example and despite his brilliance, Spain’s Sergio Garcia is still seeking his own major breakthrough.
So was Rory the second coming of Tiger or Sergio? That question was answered Sunday.
But more than being anyone’s second coming in terms of the sporting record, Rory McIlroy is quite clearly his own man. He stands out as an exemplary ambassador for his sport, Northern Ireland and all of Ireland. He is also literally an ambassador, for UNICEF, and in the days before Congressional he traveled to Haiti to see at first hand the devastation and continuing challenges caused by last year’s earthquake.
We can now only look forward to Rory McIlroy’s continued progress, both as a sportsman and international ambassador of humanitarian values and goodwill.