The Coronation of Rory McIlroy – 2011 US Open Winner
Phenoms and prodigies have always fascinated us. Whether it is music, sports, science, or any other discipline we are drawn to people who possess abilities far beyond anything we can comprehend. Rory McIlroy was tabbed as a future superstar when he turned pro shortly after his 18th birthday in 2007. The golf world took notice when he won the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship two days before his 21st birthday. His 10 under par 62 in the final round was his not so subtle arrival into the big time.
McIlroy's record smashing win at the 2011 U.S. Open was the convergence of ungodly talent and the experience he gained in his previous close encounters. The young man from Hollywood, Northern Ireland may only be 22 but he has contended for majors before. He set the pace at the 2010 British Open with a first round 63, but was derailed by a second round 80. An untimely three putt at the 15th cost him a chance at the PGA Championship in 2010.
The entire world witnessed his meltdown in the final round of the 2011 Masters. A final round 80 cost him a chance to don the green jacket and win his first major at the age of 21. The class and maturity with which he handled the loss earned him the respect and admiration of fans everywhere. He promised he'd learn from the collapse rather than dwell on it.
Young McIlroy showed no lasting effects from the final round at Augusta in the first round of the U.S. Open at Congressional. He came out of the gates fast, shooting a first round 65. He backed that up with a 66 in the second round. While most observers figured the tournament was over, McIlroy still had to exercise the demons that had cost him in previous majors. After all, when the pressure mounts he has a tendency to get quick and hit some bad pull hooks.
The weekend brought more of the same. After a Saturday 68, only a collapse of Normanian proportions could prevent Rory from grabbing his first major title. A confident birdie on the first hole told the world he had indeed learned from the final round at Augusta. The instant that putt hit the bottom of the cup, the announcers knew they were broadcasting a coronation rather than a competition.
No, this wasn't Tiger's win for the ages at the 1997 Masters, but there were a ton of parallels. Like with Tiger, the announcers ran out of superlatives by the 5th hole. When Tiger was on, the battle for second place was intense and competitive. Rory McIlroy may not make us forget about Tiger, but he'll sure give him a run for his money.