Rory McIlroy is tearing up Congressional Country Club apparently on his way to winning his first major. Admittedly, his golf during the 1st 3 rounds has been very impressive. But why must all the talk now be about how we are looking at "the next Tiger Woods"? As I read articles on sports websites last night, and watched ESPNNews and Golf Channel, sportswriters and sportscasters alike seemed to be clamoring to have the newest insight as to how McIlroy's performance was putting him as (the most recent) rightful owner of the coveted title of "the next Tiger." Heck, even the other players are getting in on this nonsense.
While McIlroy's performance is impressive, haven't we all seen this story before? I thought Sergio Garcia was going to be "the next Tiger." How did that work out? Wait a minute...Adam Scott is "the next Tiger." Oops! OK, this time we got it right: Luke Donald is "the next Tiger." No? How about Anthony Kim? Ty Tryon? Dustin Johnson? How many Major titles do those 6 players have combined?
The same thing has occured in basketball. Kobe Bryant is "the next Jordan." Wait, Harold Minor is "the next Jordan." OK, LeBron James is "the next Jordan." Heck, we even call him "The King." How many championships does he have? We are obessed with "The Next..."
One of the reasons the talk has become so prevalent about McIlroy is the supposed comparison of what he is doing this week with what Tiger did in the 2000 US Open. I think this comparison is a stretch manufactured simply for commentary sake. I was at Congressional yesterday for the 3rd Round and I can confindently tell you that Congressional is NOT playing like a typical US Open course. Remember, when Tiger shot 12 Under at Pebble in 2000, he was THE ONLY PLAYER to shoot par or better. The second best player that week shot 3 OVER par! There was a reason that every pro golfer on the planet failed to break par on that course. There is also a reason that TWENTY-SIX PLAYERS were at par or better through 3 rounds at Congressional this week. While some of the pin placements are tough, as is typical at a US Open, the rough is more like The Tuscon Open than the US Open. And the greens are recieving balls like sponges. Players are spinning the ball back to the hole from the second cut of rough, for goodness sake! McIlroy's week is impressive, but comparing it to Tiger in 2000 at Pebble is simply a product of sportwriters being desperate for a huge story during a week where Tiger's absence threatened fan interest. And it is quite unnecessary as the great play of the players has made it interesting as is.
Later today, McIlroy will most likely be celebrating his first Major Championship - I mean, c'mon, does anyone really think he is going to blow an 8 stroke lead going into the final round? Yes, I know about the Master's collapse, but that just makes it LESS likely that he will blow this lead. If he does blow this lead, we will be talking about him being "the next Greg Norman" rather than "the next Tiger." But remember, he will be celebrating his FIRST Major Championship. Maybe 10 years from now, McIlroy will celebrate his 10th Major Championship and this conversation will make sense. For now, let's allow him to be a 22 year old about to win his first Major and cease with "the next Tiger Woods" talk!