Rory McIlroy :: He's not Tiger Woods

2015 06 Rory Woods

Much like the Spanish Inquisition, nobody expects Rory McIlroy to miss consecutive cuts, such is the high regard in which the Northern Irishman has come to be held.

Expectations and reality, however, are often rather different and so it came to pass that the four-time major-winner and world No.1 endured that inglorious accomplishment last week.

An opening 80 in the Irish Open – which, for the first time, carried his name on the masthead – effectively ended McIlroy’s involvement in his home event before the sun set behind the Mourne Mountains on Friday night. That came just seven days after his defence of the BMW PGA Championship also ended prematurely.
Rory is comfortably the best player in the world at the moment. But he's not Tiger.

For the 26-year-old, it was the 28th missed cut of his European Tour career and, in turn, just another reminder that, as good as he is, he’s not Tiger Woods.

The comparisons between the two have been drawn ever more breathlessly over the past few years both by a media and a public desperate to anoint a direct successor to an embattled and brittle Woods.

The simple fact of the matter is that, right now, Rory is not that man. Yes, he’s quite comfortably the best player in the world at the moment and an extraordinarily talented young golfer. But he’s not Tiger.

At his absolute best, Woods was utterly dominant. In 20 years as a professional, he has missed just 13 cuts. Rory missed 12 in 2008 alone.


Tiger Woods v Rory McIlroy

Tiger spent a total of 683 weeks as world No.1. That’s over 13 years. His nearest challenger, Greg Norman, spent less than half that (331 weeks). Up to now, Rory has been there for 82.

Tiger has won 79 PGA Tour events; Rory has 11.

Tiger has 14 majors; Rory has four.

Tiger has won 18 World Golf Championships; Rory has won two.

Tiger is top of the PGA Tour career money list; Rory is 30th.
Woods' unbecoming off-course antics presented an opportunity for his critics to rewrite his legacy.

Look, I’m not saying that Rory isn’t good. He’s exceptional, as it goes, and a joy to watch when he’s in full flow. And yes, I'm well aware that Tiger has a 13-year head-start on him with all the aforementioned stats.

However, some people seem to forget just how good Tiger was. His unbecoming off-course antics, laid bare towards the end of 2009, presented an opportunity for his critics to rewrite his legacy – and, sadly, too many of them took it.

Dan Jenkins, the veteran golf writer, even went so far recently as to say that Woods ‘beat a lot of nobodies to win most of his majors’. Aside from the fact that’s grossly insulting to the majority of the players who have played on the PGA Tour over the last couple of decades, I feel Jenkins rather missed the point.

Strokeplay golf isn’t about beating other players. It’s about beating the course. And nobody did that better than Tiger in his pomp.


Tiger Woods v Rory McIlroy

He won five of his 14 majors by five shots or more, setting record upon record upon record along the way.

He has won two or more majors in a year four times, second only to Jack Nicklaus who did it five times.

He and Jack are the only players to have finished in the top five in all four majors in a single year multiple times.

He is the only player to have won multiple professional majors in consecutive years.

He holds at least a share of the record for lowest 72-hole score in relation to par in all four majors, and has the low-72 holes record outright in two of them.
You don’t have to like Tiger to recognise that he is a once-in-a-generation – if not a once-in-a-lifetime – talent

He is one of five players to have won the career grand slam and one of just two players, along with Nicklaus, to have done so three times.

Getting the picture? You don’t have to like Tiger to recognise that he is a once-in-a-generation – if not a once-in-a-lifetime – talent who is unreasonably and all-too-often compared to other players.

McIlroy, in all fairness, has come closest to matching his achievements so far – but ‘closest’ is a relative term. In truth, they are still light years apart.

Rory does things you never saw Tiger do at his age. Things like missing consecutive cuts and carding multiple rounds in the 80s, for example.

Again, it’s all about expectations and reality.

The expectation is that Rory will become this generation’s Tiger.

The reality is that he’s got a long, long way to go yet.

Rory McIlroy & Tiger Woods :: Your thoughts

Do you agree with Michael McEwan that comparisons between Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are poor right now? Or do you think that they are perfectly reasonable and fair? Get involved in our 'Comments' section below.

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