When Rory McIlroy won both the Open Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational this year, the talk of the “Rory era” was cranked up to unheard levels. McIlroy himself, rather understandably, didn’t want to engage in the banter, instead preferring to focus on the work he still had ahead of him. Now, after he’s won his second Wanamaker Trophy at Valhalla, it’s almost impossible to deny – the golf world is his for the taking.
While McIlroy absolutely dominated the field at the Open and came from behind on Sunday at Firestone, this performance was perhaps the most comprehensive display of golf in his young career. It was anything but a runaway as McIlroy was tied and, at times, passed by the likes of Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson. However, as day wore into night, McIlroy’s resolve only seemed to get stronger. As cliche as it sounds, Rory simply would not be beaten.
That’s not to say the young Ulsterman didn’t look beatable at times; he was two-over through six holes, and with the field bunched up, it would have been easy for him to become discouraged. The newer, more confident Rory that we’ve seen over the last several months just seemed to know that if he weathered the storm, as he had done so masterfully when it came to the weather this week, he would be just fine.
McIlroy still won’t allow himself to get caught up in the comparisons to players like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, although by nearly any metric his career is trending in the same direction as the two legends’. He’s grounded, and he knows that to be considered one of the true greats, he not only needs to be successful on the biggest stage, but bring that level of game every time he’s out. Understanding that is the first step to reaching his ultimate goals, and he’s well under way.
McIlroy should allow himself to drink in everything that comes with winning his fourth career major, and then it’s back to work for the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup. For us, it’s time to sit back and appreciate the greatness we’re bearing witness to.