Monday, May 4

Rory McIlroy Dismisses Tiger and Jack Comparisons

By Brian Keogh

Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

Golf news from Brian Keogh's
Irish Golf Desk.
RORY MCILROY DREW COMPARISONS with the game's two greatest living major winners for his WGC-Cadillac Match Play win over Gary Woodland at Harding Park. In truth, it's stretching it a bit far to compare a man with 10 PGA Tour wins on the eve of his 26th birthday to Jack Nicklaus' 26 victories by the age of 25 or Tiger Woods' 17. Even McIlroy thought it was a bit much.

Flattering as it might be, he runs a mile from any Tiger-Jack comparisons for obvious reasons. He's just happy he's learning to close out wins in clinical fashion, which is something he'd always struggled with in the past.

"Every time I have a win, I keep hearing those guys' names come up," he said when contrived Jack-Tiger statistical comparison was thrown his way.

"It's great to be mentioned with the likes of Tiger and Jack, the two greatest players that I think have ever played this game. I'm on my journey, I'll see where I get to. But right now I'm really happy with my 10th win. And I'm going to go after my 11th next week at TPC."

What does bear thinking about is the way the Northern Irish star managed to see off all comers with something less than his A game, just as Floyd Mayweather did no more than he had to do to beat Manny Pacquaio in the fight that McIlroy was forced to watch in the media centre on Saturday night. Perhaps it was just as well that the made-for-TV starting times in San Francisco meant McIlroy couldn't use his ringside seat and had to get up in the middle of the night to prepare to complete his quarter-final match with Paul Casey on Sunday morning.

Whatever about the format of the event and the TV times, McIlroy fully deserved the win, his cheque for $1,570,000 and his second World Golf Championship title.

At times his driving and iron play were out of the very top drawer but even when they were not, his short game was so deadly that he beat Jason Dufner (5&4) and Brandt Snedeker (2 up) before knocking out, Billy Horschel (20th), Hideki Matsuyama (6&5), Paul Casey (22 holes) and Jim Furyk (1 up) with some clutch play down the stretch. 

Even though he was friendly with Gary Woodland in the final, he was able to flick the ruthless switch and crush him 4 and 2 in a final that was more a exhibition of survival skills than anything else.

"I'm really proud of the character I showed in recovering from some deficits," McIlroy said afterwards. "I got a lot of matchplay confidence with the way I beat Rickie [Fowler] at the Ryder Cup last year and with this being my first American win of the year I am very satisfied."

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

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