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Golf Australia Express : Issue 49
RORY MCILROY IS AN enigma of sorts. Like the Artful Dodger, every time we think he’s taking us one way, he darts back the other. It’s a feature that frustrates some and endears him to many more. He is human. He succeeds as much as he fails. He can shoot mind-blowingly low or head-bangingly high. He can wow us with brilliance and wow us with clumsiness—remember that infamous 50-yard snap-hook at the Masters? In the past three years, the 23-year- old has seen more ups and downs than an amusement park—although not all were overly amusing to the man himself. First he shoots a St Andrews Old course record-equalling 63 in Round 1 of the 2010 British Open to lead the major, only to follow it with an 80 in the second round and cost himself a shot at the win. Then in 2011, in pursuit of his maiden major, McIlroy led the field through 63 of 72 holes only to capitulate on the back nine at Augusta on Sunday and card another embarrassing 80, surrendering a certain green jacket. The wunderkind quickly gained a reputation for collapsing on the big stage. But then came Congressional. Then came McIlroy’s making. At 22, the Northern Irishman bounced back from his major misfortunes to romp home at the US Open by an incredible eight shots, posting 16-under in what was supposed to be golf’s hardest test of the year. The media swooned over the ‘Next Tiger’—or more correctly, ‘First Rory’—who of course was going to go on and dominate the golf world. In March, that came true when McIlroy took over the world No.1 ranking with a stoic win at the Honda Classic, fittingly holding off a Tiger Woods surge on Sunday to win by five shots. He out- Tigered Tiger at The Honda and the world appeared his pearl-making shellfish. But golf’s a fickle sport. Arguably the most fickle of them all. With McIlroy’s light playing schedule working well for him early in the year, it only took consecutive missed cuts in May and June for the question to be raised whether Rory needed to be playing more golf. With every prickly interview he gave other questions began to surface. Was McIlroy really as humble as they said, or was he just a grumpy git when things weren’t going his way? Was he really as popular with, and endearing to, the fans like we’ve been told? [See video on next page.] Was he too focused this season on spending time with his girlfriend, former world No.1 tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, at the expense of his golf? The last question is the one that frustrated McIlroy the most and he answered it publicly on Sunday with the Wanamaker trophy by his side. “I was a little frustrated with how I was playing earlier on in the year, but a few people in this room were probably pushing panic buttons for no reason,” McIlroy said to the media. The wunderkind gained a reputation for collapsing on the big stage. Then came Congressional. Then came McIlroy’s making. COVER STORY THE The world No.1 ranked played showed us again that golf is not black and white. After a turbulent month or so and with pressure mounting on him to perform, golf's most-hyped player came through with the goods.
Issue 48—PGA Championship