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McIlroy: Securing a place in golf history



Warning: if you don’t like comparisons of Rory McIlroy with Jack, Tiger, Hogan and other all-time greats, please change the channel now.

Thank you. The rest of you, follow me.

Rory McIlroy staked his claim as the best player in the world, running away from the field at the 2012 PGA Championship at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. McIlroy posted a blemish-free round of 66 to finish at 13-under par. In doing so, he broke more records than a DJ in an earthquake. He broke Nicklaus’ record for margin of victory in a PGA Championship and became the youngest to win the PGA Championship in the post-World War II era (besting Jack by three months) and secured two major victories four months earlier than Tiger Woods.

Physically, he’s smaller than Michelle Wie. But when he’s on, he is the longest hitter on the Tour and arguably the longest pound for pound hitter in the history of the game. He has touch around the greens, a precise and creative short game, and has displayed a mastery of the flat stick evidenced by the paltry 24 putts that he needed to get around Kiawah on Sunday. Like Nicklaus and Woods before him, he excels when the spotlight is brightest. And if you replace two rounds of 80 with two par rounds, he’d have the career Grand Slam right now today.

The iconic golfers of the past thirty years are Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman and Tiger Woods. These are the players that not only won; they won in a way that made other people want to play like them. Nicklaus’s ability, Norman’s majesty and Seve’s joy are all apparent in the young champion from Northern Ireland. McIlrory was close to being a cautionary tale after his final round meltdown in the 2011 Masters, but he used that as incentive in winning the very next major in runaway fashion.

Both experiences were put to use this week, but as McIlroy admits, “The failure helped me more. I learned what I had to do to win in these situations and to achieve the things that I want to achieve.”

What do you get when you combine precocious talent with a helping of grace and maturity? The future.

The Golf Channel’s Steve Sands asked McIlroy his definition of the difference between success and greatness. The question gave McIlroy more trouble than anything he faced on the course on Sunday.

“Success is winning tournaments, and greatness…, uh, well, it’s hard to say.”

The men and women in the pantheon, and those who aspired to it and fell short, know the answer. Success is a moment in time, a comparative snapshot where an individual achieves what he or she always wanted to but maybe never believed that they could do. It’s being in the right place in the right time. It’s often as much luck as skill. Greatness is success squared, achievement over a sustained period of time. It’s when they stop comparing you to other players and start comparing others to you.

Tiger Woods has lived most of his career being compared to Jack. The next phase may find him more often or more accurately compared to Arnie. After winning six major championships starting with the 1958 Masters Palmer won his seventh, the 1964 Masters at the age of 34. That victory was his 43rd on Tour, and he went on to win another 19 times on Tour. But he never won another major. And there is no doubt that the appearance of a young Jack Nicklaus hastened Palmer’s decline.

Woods has three victories on Tour this year, and has the top spot in the FedEx and Ryder Cup standings, putting him in contention for Player of the Year honors. But it has now been four years since his last major championship victory. He is clearly more in control of his latest swing iteration, but the fact that he did not shoot an under par round in a major on the weekend this year raises words like “nerves” and “fragile” from observers.

Woods stunned reporters by saying that he was “too relaxed” during the critical third round pretty much sealed his fate. The only plausible explanation for the most intense competitor since Hogan trying to whistle a happy tune during a major championship is that he was trying to control his nerves. It is said that Palmer never won another major after he quit smoking. Tiger has added and subtracted so many parts that its hard to pick one that would be the key. He has always been a man in flux, but the variables were always of his choosing. Now, most of the changes that have taken place (age, scandal, injury) are not of his choosing and not under his control. Surely, Woods will win going forward and will be a factor when the lights shine brightest. But McIlroy seems to be to Tiger what Nicklaus was to Palmer, a force of nature blowing into what once was calm and orderly.

There are only two current players in the world under 40 with two majors; Woods and McIlroy. It will be fascinating to watch them walk together for a period. For Woods, McIlroy is both a mirror and a clock. Rory is a reflection of the inspiration that Woods instilled in young golfers all over the world with every scintillating moment in his career. And he is also a stopwatch, a ticking timer in Woods’ ear, reminding him that even for the best that ever lived, all glory is temporary.

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.



  1. James Lythgoe

    Aug 28, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Rory Mcllroy is without doubt the person with the most potential in golf today. He golf swing is really a sight to behold -flawless. Not to mention, he has great fluidity in his spine so he gets through the ball better than the older players. Tiger has this once too.

    I started watching golf back in the 1960’s so I have seen a few greats. There are qualities of Jack Nicklaus that I think people have forgotten. He was the best I have seen for getting the ball in the hole. I suspect he had fantastic depth perception in his vision.

    Tiger Woods has hit golf shots that I never saw Jack hit. I don’t think of either golfer as being better than the other. They played in different times and so I would just as soon not answer the question of who is number one.

    Seve Ballesteros had charisma so much so when I think of him I imagine that he won 100 majors. I know he didn’t but he won his majors with such flair that he left me with the impression he has won more majors than anyone else.

    I hope that we can accept Rory for being Rory and not try to make him a replacement for Tiger. All of the great players had something unique to themselves and this is what we should seek from Rory.

  2. Zach

    Aug 15, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    I think the thing that Rory has on his side (that Tiger does not) is balance. He seems to have an equilibrium and peace with his life outside the course and that can complement his game on the course. But more importantly that can lead to consistancy.Maybe not in Tiger Wood’s type of explosive dominance, but in a long term career sense. He wont have a blow out like Tiger when things inevitably go against you on the course.

  3. Geneva

    Aug 14, 2012 at 8:05 am

    as Stanley answered I am stunned that any one able to profit $4656 in 4 weeks on the computer. have you seen this web site (Click on menu Home more information)

  4. Troy Vayanos

    Aug 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Great post,

    I’m a big fan of Rory’s and not just because of his excellence on the golf course. The way he handled that 2011 US Masters defeat was stuff of a champion.

    I think it’s fitting that he has gone on to win 2 majors and I hope a lot more. Such a good role model and an ideal player to have as the number one golfer in the world.

  5. golf fan

    Aug 13, 2012 at 9:49 am

    mcilroy is a kid with alot of talent that’s won 2 majors, does he have the drive that tiger did in his early 20’s? no…he won the us open, got a girlfriend and MC’d alot in recent tournaments…

    who ranks #1 in the world, then can’t make weekends in events? mcilroy..that’s who

    in reality, he is almost 14 majors away from tiger’s career and we compare him to nicklaus’ career…sounds like irrational exuberance to alot of us…

    we are rooting for rory, let his sticks do the talking

  6. Curt

    Aug 12, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Come on with WITB!!! I want to know what driver shaft he was playing. We know it was a Diamana, but wondering if it was the new Plus D series???

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Tour News

REPORT: Tiger Woods to play in the Genesis Open on Feb 15



Last season, Tiger Woods withdrew from a press conference at the Genesis Open due to back spasms. This season, Woods will reportedly play in the 2018 Genesis Open at Riviera C.C. in Pacific Palisades, California from February 15-18.

By withdrawing from the 2017 Genesis Open — an event which his Tiger Woods Foundation hosts — Woods ensured that a promising comeback was not to be. At the start of 2017, Woods committed to play in the Farmers Insurance Open, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Genesis Open and the Honda Classic… an aggressive schedule for Woods, who hadn’t played much competitive golf in the previous year due to back injuries and surgeries. Things didn’t go as planned, however, as Woods missed the cut at the Farmers, withdrew after an opening-round 77 in Dubai, and withdrew from the Genesis Open and the Honda.

Since then, Woods has had spinal fusion surgery, and he recently finished T9 at the 18-player 2017 Hero World Challenge. It was there he showed the golfing world — and probably himself, too — that he can still compete among the world’s best golfers when he’s healthy.

At the Hero World Challenge, Woods was consistently hitting 179 mph of ball speed off the tee with his driver, and despite some early concerns with the wedge, he showed prowess around and on the greens. He was yip-less, fast, healthy, and finished 8-under through four rounds. A Tiger Woods comeback seems more plausible now than it has in three years.

Woods will continue to test his game at the 2017 Genesis Open — a start that will come 26 years after competing as a 16-year-old amateur in the 1992 Nissan Open at Riviera. Much like 26 years ago, Woods comes to Riviera as a golfer who needs to prove himself… it’s just that this time around, he has 14 majors and 79 PGA Tour wins to his name.

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Thursday’s Photos from the 2017 PNC Father/Son Challenge



GolfWRX is live this week from the 2017 PNC Father/Son Challenge at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Florida.

The 20-team field includes some of the game’s legendary major champions, and their sons. Notable teams include John Daly/Little John Daly, Nick Faldo/Matthew Faldo, Tom Kite/David Kite, Bernhard Langer/Jason Langer, Greg Norman/Greg Norman Jr., Jack Nicklaus/Gary Nicklaus Jr., and Lee Trevino/Daniel Trevino.  The teams will compete in a scramble format over 36 holes to decide the winners of the Willie Park Trophy.

Last year, David Duval and his step-son Nick Karavites took home the trophy, and they are back in the field this year to defend.

Check out our photos below from this year’s event!

Thursday’s Photos

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos

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Friday’s Photos from the 2017 QBE Shootout



GolfWRX is live this week from the 2017 QBE Shootout at Tiburon G.C. in Naples, Florida. Formerly known as the Franklin Templeton Shootout, or the Shark Shootout, the unofficial event plays host to 24 of some of the world’s best golfers, competing in a two-person team competition. The format calls for 54 holes; first-round scramble, second-round modified alternate shot, and third-round fourball (or better ball).


Here is a list of the teams:

  • Daniel Berger-Gary Woodland
  • Keegan Bradley-Brendan Steele
  • Kevin Chappell-Kevin Kisner
  • Jason Dufner-Billy Horschel
  • Harris English-Matt Kuchar
  • Tony Finau-Lexi Thompson
  • Brian Harman-Pat Perez
  • Russell Henley-Kyle Stanley
  • Charley-Hoffman-Zach Johnson
  • Shane Lowry-Graeme McDowell
  • Brandt Snedeker-Bubba Watson
  • Sean O’Hair-Steve Stricker

Last year, Harris English and Matt Kuchar took down the crown, finishing at 28-under par for the event. Of course, they’ll be playing together again this year as the defending champs.

Check out our photos from the 2017 QBE Shootout below!

Friday’s Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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19th Hole