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Move Over Tiger! Rory McIlroy Dominates the U.S. Open

Posted on June 19, 2011 by Dean Hybl

The 22-year-old Rory McIlroy dominated the field at the 2011 U.S. Open.

It seems pretty ironic that the first U.S. Open played without the most dominant golfer of the last 15 years would serve as the coming out party for a 22-year-old golfer who dominated the tournament like no golfer other than Tiger Woods has ever done. Rory McIlroy broke so many records in claiming his first Major Championship that many now wonder if McIlroy could be golf’s next superstar.

If you happened to turn the television off after the first 63 holes of the Masters earlier this year and not pay attention to golf until now, you probably aren’t at all surprised that McIlroy led from wire-to-wire at the U.S. Open.

He was doing basically the same thing at the Masters before the wheels suddenly came off over the final  nine holes. McIlroy led by four strokes entering the final round and still had the lead at the 10th tee. However, he shot a 43 over the final nine and finished 10 strokes off the pace in a tie for 15th place.

Because of that record-setting collapse (his 80 was the worst score ever in the final round by a player who entered the final round leading the Masters), many were skeptical even when he opened the 2011 U.S. Open with a six-under 65 and followed it with a 66 to post the best first two-day score in U.S. Open history.

After shooting a 68 in the third round to take an eight stroke lead into the final round, even his opponents were hoping that McIlroy wouldn’t suffer another meltdown.

They needn’t worry as he birdied the first hole and never looked back as his final score of -16 (65-66-68-69=268) was the lowest score in U.S. Open history and four shots better than the -12 posted by Tiger Woods at the 2000 U.S. Open. All told, he established 12 new tournament records during his dominant victory.

Which Golfer is More Important to the Future of the Sport?

  • Rory McIlroy (66%, 19 Votes)
  • Tiger Woods (31%, 9 Votes)
  • Phil Mickelson (3%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 29

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Had it not been for his final nine-hole collapse at the Masters, we might be talking about McIlroy trying for the Grand Slam. Considering that he finished tied for third at both the 2010 British Open and PGA Championship, there is no question that he is now someone who will be talked about as a contender at every major moving forward.

Given his amazing dominance, you can’t help compare him to the emergence of Tiger Woods more than a decade ago. McIlroy seems to have a composure that goes well beyond his 22 years and his resilience in going from Masters disappointment to U.S. Open Champion is quite impressive.

What also seems impressive about the 22-year-old is that he is quite grounded and unflustered by his newfound celebrity.

Only two weeks before claiming the U.S. Open, the youngster from Northern Ireland was in Haiti serving in his role as an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland.

Back in April after his disappointing collapse at the Masters, instead of shunning the media he answered every question and even posted a congratulatory photo of tournament winner Charl Schwartzel on his Twitter account.

McIlroy is the fourth straight golfer under the age of 30 to claim a major championship and he seems to be the best of an impressive crop of talented young golfers.

Only time will tell if he can develop into the “next Tiger Woods”, but in a sport where many still cling to past champions like Woods and Phil Mickelson to carry the load, it is exciting to think that a new era of champions is emerging and it sure appears that Rory McIlroy will be right in front paving the way.

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