End of Tiger’s era ushers in Rory’s

By Tony McDaniel

Sunday featured the final round of the 2014 PGA championship and one of the most riveting finishes to a major in recent history.

With four players still in contention with five holes left to play during the last round, viewers everywhere were glued to their televisions to see who would come out on top as the winner of the season’s final major.

It was 25-year-old Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland who ended up on top of the leaderboard at 16 shots under par. Phil Mickelson finished second and nearly tied McIlroy with a ridiculous pitch shot from off the green that almost found the hole for an eagle; he sunk his putt for a birdie to finish 15 shots under par.

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Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler finished tied for third at 14 shots under par.

The casual golf fan would probably think to them selves Tiger Woods must have been just behind those guys, but he was far from the leaders, very far, like not even on the course. Woods missed the cut on Friday after shooting a dismal two round score of 148 to finish six shots over par.

It was the fifth time Woods had missed a cut in the last four years. An astonishing statistic considering the man was once considered the greatest player in the world, and has only missed the cut 11 times since he turned pro in 1996.

Who can blame him though? Woods is dealing with a back injury that is clearly affecting his game.

It isn’t the first of his career.

Woods has dealt with injuries off and on for the last several years and has missed large blocks of time on the course, not to mention one very large sex scandal and messy divorce.

Woods has been one of the most competitive players in any sport throughout his career and it is likely that fire inside Woods will never burn out. However his body is beginning to fail him.

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To quote Zapp Brannigan from Futurama, “The soul is willing, but the flesh is spongy and bruised.”

It may be safe to say that the sun is setting on the era of Woods dominance and that the McIlroy era is in its dawn.

McIlroy’s win Sunday marked his fourth major, only Woods and Jack Nicklaus have matched that feat win by the age of 25.

McIlroy plays with poise and seems to have ice in his veins when his game is on, its hard to notice a change in his demeanor after he hits a poor shot. McIlroy bombs the ball off the tee and seems to be a solid putter at this point of his young career.

McIlroy isn’t the only talented young player on the tour.

Fowler is also just 25 years of age and has played to a top five finish in each of this season’s major championships and seems to be knocking on the door of his first major win.

With other young players like Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, and Keegan Bradley working their way into weekly contention, the PGA tour is truly seeing a youth movement, which is great for the sport.

This however is not great for Woods.

Woods’ career goal has always been to best Nicklaus’s 18 major championships. It appears that window is closing if not already shut.

The best thing for Woods may be to take the rest of 2014 off and return rested and healed for 2015. Perhaps he would even return as the dominant Woods that electrified the golf community years ago. That however is a long shot.

The 38 year old Woods may have a few championships left under his belt, but most likely not the five he needs to break Nicklaus’s record.

I however would not be surprised to see Woods win at least one more major, he’s not that old for golf.

After all Nicklaus was 46 when he won his final major.

Tony McDaniel can be reached at [email protected]@tonymcdanielDE or at 536-3311 ext. 282

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