Is Rory McIlroy the Next Tiger Woods?


The 22-year old Rory McIlroy was on fire Friday when he became the only player in U.S. Open history to reach -13 under.

Haven’t we seen this before?

Yes, McIlroy did accelerate above the field at Augusta, Georgia during the Masters but that’s not quite what I’m referring to. I’m talking about a young Tiger Woods who was making the same headlines just 11 years ago.

McIlroy’s dominant play and the recent demise of  Woods brings about the question; is the youngster from Northern Ireland the new Tiger Woods?

By: Nick Grays

McIlroy currently sits at -11 under and holds a unheard of six-shot lead over Y.E. Yang. That’s tied for a U.S. Open record at the halfway point. Coincidentally, Woods was in the exact same situation at Pebble Beach in 2000 (Woods would go on to win his first U.S. Open).

I’m not the only one comparing McIlroy to a younger Woods. Check out what some of the professionals had to say after Rory’s remarkable round of golf on Friday:

“It was Tiger Woods of 11 years ago,” said Ian Poulter.

“He’s striking it flawlessly and putted great on the greens. His first two rounds were very impressive,” said Phil Mickelson.

“But to be 13-under, pretty incredible. But there’s a long ways to go yet. I mean, just got to keep hanging in there and keep trying to shoot under par. He’s got to come back. The way he’s playing now, it doesn’t seem like he’ll do that, but you’ve just got to keep fighting and see what happens. But pretty incredible what he’s done so far,” said Steve Stricker.

“If McIlroy keeps playing the way he does, he’s uncatchable,” said Matt Kuchar.

“Yeah, brilliant. It’s great golf. How many is he leading by,” said Lee Westwood.

“He’s just playing great, simple as that,” said Sergio Garcia.

I could go on-and-on with more quotes, but I think you get the picture.

Truth be told, I was going to write this same kind of article when Rory held a three-stroke lead at the Masters, but was glad I didn’t because he started hitting into the cabins and dramatically tanked in the final round.

There are still two rounds left of the 2011 U.S. Open and another breakdown is possible, but Rory appears to be one step ahead of the golf-course known as the Congressional. It’s almost fare to assume that the other golfers are out of the picture and it’s now McIlroy versus the Congressional.

If that is indeed the case, McIlroy should feel a lot better about his chances of capturing his first major title.

“As I said last night, I feel very comfortable on this golf course, and there’s no real keys to how I’ve shot so well or went so low. It’s just I just keep trying to hit it in the fairway and hit it on the green and try and hole a few putts, and I’ve been able to do that,” said McIlroy.

He also remembers his tragic downfall at the Masters and says he learned a lot from the experience.

“Yeah, I think it’s mostly to do with my attitude more than anything else. You know, I took a few things away from the Masters that I felt I could incorporate into my game, and I said at the start of the week, we’ll find out how they go when I get myself into that position again. We’ll see how that goes over the next couple of days,” concluded Rory.

If McIlroy puts together a solid weekend of golf, it’s time to start comparing him to Tiger Woods because he projects to be that kind of golf player. He won’t be as young as Woods when he won the Masters in 1997 (Woods was 21), but pretty darn close.

Do you think McIlroy has what it takes to have a career like that of Tiger Woods? Let me know by commenting below!

Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.

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