McIlroy not the 'Next Tiger Woods'

By Jason SobelAugust 13, 2012, 1:45 am

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Rory McIlroy is not The Next Tiger Woods.

You may be excused if you thought otherwise. It’s a simple mistake.

In the wake of McIlroy’s dominant, persuasive victory at the 94th PGA Championship, the comparisons come quick and easy, but they are two very different players, two very different people.

Rory smiles. A broad, gaping smile for anyone and everyone. He wants people to like him, tries his best to please others. Tiger has always been more brooding. His steely-eyed demeanor and unending focus were never intended to win friends and influence people.

Which is kind of ironic in a way. Rory may be wildly popular around the world, but he’ll never own the same cross-cultural significance nor inclusive impact as Tiger.

That’s only partly because they introduced themselves to us in different ways. Rory’s first chance to win a major championship evaporated on the back nine at Augusta National when he was 21. Just months after announcing, “Hello, world,” Tiger turned it into his personal playground at the same age.

No, Rory McIlroy is not The Next Tiger Woods.

But he does one hell of an impersonation.

Clad in a red shirt and firing at flagsticks, Rory looked unmistakably like Tiger throughout the entire final round, pulling away from the field to turn the back nine into yet another major-championship coronation.

From his ability to separate from the pack to a final-hole birdie punctuated by an exuberant fist pump, it was the stuff of Tiger in his prime major-winning years. Even the way McIlroy’s peers discussed the performance in wide-eyed awe and effusive praise was reminiscent of how Woods’ fellow competitors have often discussed his achievements after a major win.

Ian Poulter: “Everybody should take note. The guy's pretty good.”

Carl Pettersson: “He was just better than everybody -- and it was clear to everybody, I think.”

Graeme McDowell: “His score speaks for itself. He's a hell of a talented player.”

All of which leads to the burning question: So just why isn’t he The Next Tiger Woods?

It’s because he’s a little Jack Nicklaus. He can overpower a course from tee to green, owning an innate ability to step on the gas pedal and not let up until the final putt has dropped.

It’s because he’s a little Arnold Palmer – or Phil Mickelson, if you will. He attacks a course, his aggressive nature the reason for both his success and failure, but always a constant in his game.

It’s because he’s a little Greg Norman. When McIlroy lost the Masters in agonizing, embarrassing fashion last year, he didn’t hide from the cameras, instead handling the situation with grace and humility.

Mostly, though, it’s because no player should be saddled with the responsibility of having to be The Next anyone, especially if that title is followed by the name of a 14-time major champion.

“It's tough to say that Rory is a Tiger Woods type player,” said McDowell, a friend and fellow Northern Ireland native. “Tiger Woods is a once-in-a-lifetime type player, and Rory McIlroy is at least a once-in-a-decade type player. He's that good. I've been saying it for years how good he is.” 

We get it. McIlroy’s win on Sunday was his second major in the last seven and mirrored his eight-stroke differential from last year’s U.S. Open. It was the largest margin of victory in PGA Championship history, eclipsing Nicklaus’ seven-shot win in 1980.

That’s not even close to the most eye-popping statistic.

At 23 years, 3 months and 8 days, McIlroy becomes the sixth-youngest player to win a second major, trailing only Young Tom Morris, Gene Sarazen, Johnny McDermott, Seve Ballesteros and Nicklaus.

Not enough? Try this: He’s just the 13th player since 1950 to win majors in back-to-back years. Of the other dozen, 10 are members of the World Golf Hall of Fame and two – Woods and Padraig Harrington – are destined for induction sometime soon.

Mention a comparison to Woods, though, and McIlroy blanches at the correlation.

“I don't know,” he said. “I mean, I've won my second major at the same age as he had. But he went on that incredible run like 2000, 2001, 2002 and won so many. You know, I'd love to sit up here and tell you that I'm going to do the same thing, but I just don't know.

“It's been great to win my first major last year and to back that up with another one this year; I can't ask for any more. I just want to keep working hard, keep practicing, and hopefully there's a few more of these in my closet when my career finishes.”

When his career does finish, when his shaggy hair has turned a light shade of gray and he’s gone from being a flatbelly to a potbelly, we can analyze whether McIlroy lived up to the standard set by Woods or even surpassed it.

That’s not for now, though. For now, any acknowledgment toward him being The Next Tiger Woods is premature and unwarranted.

He doesn’t need it anyway. Based on what we witnessed this week, it’s good enough simply being The First Rory McIlroy.

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.