The Rory McIlroy era?

By Jason SobelJune 20, 2011, 3:10 am

BETHESDA, Md. – Sixty-five million years ago, when the planet morphed from the Mesozoic Era into the next time period, there was no defining moment. No big bang. No singular conflict. No writer’s guild of the stegosaurus – yes, those were the ones with small brains – penning columns in the dirt declaring such a transition.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, the saying goes – and it doesn’t get much more historical than the Age of Dinosaurs. The primitive beasts didn’t suddenly decide to become extinct one fateful day. It took years for this progression to advance to the point where they no longer roamed the earth.

What does all of this have to do with golf? Well, plenty.

Following his runaway victory at the 111th U.S. Open Championship, many have been quick to proclaim this new interval the Rory McIlroy Era.

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.

Lest we’re doomed to repeat history – which at this point in the analogy would require pterodactyls swooping down on future major championship venues – we should learn that eras aren’t born overnight. They develop gradually over time, a series of occurrences leading to a transformation in the way things are perceived.

No big bang. No singular conflict.

And just as the small-brained dinosaurs failed to declare certain transitions around them, we should hold off on pronouncing the game’s most recent result as a definitive changing of the guard.

If that sounds pessimistic based on Rory’s romp through the field at Congressional Country Club this week, it’s understandable. After all, it was difficult to watch McIlroy shoot 65-66-68-69 en route to breaking a dozen records and not believe that he is not only the future of golf, but the game’s present, too.

At the ripe old age of 22, the Northern Ireland native displayed a performance we haven’t witnessed since the heyday of Tiger Woods, the last professional golfer to have a so-called era named after him. He averaged 310 yards per drive. Found 64 percent of the fairways. Hit 86 percent of the greens in regulation. Posted one eagle and 19 birdies. Triumphed by eight strokes.

It was the type of performance that makes us think he may never lose again, that it’s McIlroy – not Woods – who is the obvious successor to Jack Nicklaus’ crown as the reigning king of major victories. It was enough to crank the hype machine to 11 and rain down the hyperbole.

Even his fellow competitors were in on the act.

“If you’re going to talk about someone challenging Jack’s record,' said three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, “he’s your man.”

“Nothing this kid does ever surprises me,” said last year’s U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, also from Northern Ireland and a friend of McIlroy. “He's the best player I've ever seen. I didn't have a chance to play with Tiger when he was in his real pomp, and this guy is the best I've ever seen – simple as that. He's great for golf. He's a breath of fresh air for the game and perhaps we're ready for golf's next superstar and maybe Rory is it.”

Pardon my Irish, but “de reir a cheile a thogtar na caisleain” – which translates as “it takes time to build castles.”

One week ago, many were proclaiming this to be the Era of Parity. The year’s second major was widely believed to be among the most wide open in recent memory, with so many players seemingly having a chance to claim the hardware.

And why not? In the first half of this season, only two players had claimed multiple PGA Tour titles and neither more than twice. Over the past calendar year, the major champions list included four first-time winners. The notion of one man dominating the game was as foreign as the players claiming those trophies.

That doesn’t change in four days.

It especially doesn’t change when a player grabs just his third career professional victory. Of McIlroy’s other two, one came two years ago in Dubai, when a five-shot lead with nine holes to play turned into a one-stroke win only when he saved par from a greenside bunker on the final hole. The second came last year in Charlotte when he made the cut on the number, then flew under the radar – at mach speed, no less – to come from behind and win the title.

There’s no denying what McIlroy accomplished at the U.S. Open was the stuff of genius. Let’s keep it in perspective, though. Just 11 months ago, Louis Oosthuizen blitzed the Open Championship field at St. Andrews, winning by just one fewer shot than Rory did at Congressional this week. While hailed in headlines as “King Louis,” he barely received his 15 minutes of fame, let alone his own era.

Yes, McIlroy has all the tools to become one of the greats, but until he begins dominating like this on a regular basis, it’s premature to anoint the new world No. 4 as the game’s lone shining star. And that's OK. At an age when most young people are either ferociously clicking through postings or joyfully finding themselves while backpacking through Europe, he’s on top of the golf world.

For now.

Someday we may indeed look back on his historic performance at the U.S. Open as the beginning of his reign, just as we reminisce over Woods’ initial major win at the 1997 Masters as the start of a legendary run through the record books.

Today is not that day, though. Let’s enjoy what the newest major champion accomplished, but much like our planet’s transition 65 million years ago, golf’s advancement to the Rory McIlroy Era should be a gradual process.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.