What we learned: McIlroy runs away with 2nd major


KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the week. This time it's an easy task for the team at the PGA Championship; we focus on another major-less season by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy's second major win at age 23.

I need to trust what players say a little more. Journalists by nature are bred to be skeptical. We're not necessarily supposed to believe everything we're told. Sometimes it's the truth, sometimes it's less than the truth. When Rory McIlroy played terribly at the Masters then went on a stretch where he missed four of five cuts – including the U.S. Open – I didn't believe him when he said he wasn't concerned, that he thought good play was just around the corner. I bought into some of the talk that he was more interested in chasing his tennis girlfriend all over the world. Won't make that mistake again with Rory. When he talks, I'll listen. And I'll believe him. – Jay Coffin

That Rory McIlroy may not be a once-in-a-lifetime player, like Tiger Woods, but he is swiftly becoming a once-in-a-generation player.

We also discovered that Kiawah may be an idyllic slice of Atlantic Coast faux linksland, but if the PGA of America plans to bring its marquee tournament back to this corner of the Low Country may we suggest another bridge or perhaps flying shuttle buses. – Rex Hoggard

I learned that Tiger Woods is desperate, really desperate, to win a 15th major. How else to explain his bizarre decision to change the way he approached the weekend at the PGA Championship? The pressure to win a major was intensifying, and he was pressing, plain and simple. Thus, he decided that he wanted to “enjoy the process” of attempting to win a major, even trying to be “a little bit happy out there.” Some have suggested that this was just a convenient excuse, a way to bypass the larger issue of his weekend woes in majors. Even Woods was quick to admit that the Happy Experiment flopped, miserably, so expect to see the usual ruthless competitor come April 2013. – Ryan Lavner

I learned that we should have seen this coming. Three years ago, I sat in the clubhouse at Doral shooting the breeze with Ian Poulter on a number of topics. When Rory McIlroy’s name was broached, Poulter sat forward in his seat and stared right at me. “He hits it a long way. He hits it straight. He owns good distance control with his irons. He’s a solid putter. And he has the right mental resolve to succeed in this game,” he said. He then threw his arms up in the air and rhetorically asked, “That’s golf. What else is there?” In the history of the game, there have been very few players of whom we could list such natural talents at such a young age. Rarely did any flame out. McIlroy is right in line to be the next superstar, if he’s not there already. We can hold off on handing out legendary status until he’s accomplished more, but I’m confident greater successes are on the horizon. After all, he’s got all the tools. That’s golf. What else is there?  Jason Sobel

Rory McIlroy is complicating the most compelling question in golf. Can Tiger Woods surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record for major championship titles? That’s the question that captivates the golf world, but McIlroy seems intent on amending it. With McIlroy winning his second major Sunday, another dominating performance in a record eight-shot rout, the compelling question now may be: Can Woods get through McIlroy to claim Nicklaus’ record? McIlroy’s second major championship triumph is validation that his heart is every bit the rival of his talent. He’s a large presence in the game’s largest events now, and he may be a Tiger roadblock, too. If Woods keeps coming on, and he seems determined to find his best form again, he may have to beat McIlroy to beat Nicklaus. Randall Mell