Rory McIlroy: Returning the excitement to Golf for the Casual Fan
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 08:07 AM
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The technical aspects of the game of Golf are fascinating.
While it may look easy to swing a driver as hard as you can and drive the ball some distance, you will find that your first attempt will be lucky to even connect with the ball. Even more impressive is the judgment that players use to manage their approach to the green. Fighting their way through sand, and sometimes over water, or beating through weeds so that they can't even see the part of the ball they will connect with.
This all comes before the precision of putting. While this part of the game looks incredibly simple, it is one of the most difficult. Maneuvering the tiny ball through the curves and slopes that lie hidden on the green. Waiting to hear that plink in the hope that the ball lands in the minuscule hole that is the ultimate aim.
Yet, isn't golf just a little...well boring?
Don't get me wrong, obviously Golf fans can sit there and watch over 30 hours of it over four days but for the casual fan, it needs that little bit more.
That little bit more tends to equate to drama or off the course story lines. Tiger Woods once provided that drama as at his peak (which resembled more of a plateau than a peak) everyone would note when he lost. I mean everyone, not just golf fans, anyone that had the smallest of interest in some form of sport or competition.
Why wouldn't we? Hasn't tennis become even better now with the domination of Roger Federer and the subsequent fight for it's stranglehold that has ensued with Rafa Nadal? Aren't we all waiting for Manny Pacquiao to finally fight that one fighter that will be just too big? Doesn't everyone note when Ronnie O'Sullivan or Phil Taylor don't win a championship?
Woods' implosion of the golf course has essentially made him irrelevant, although it did provide great drama with his attempts to rebound. Tiger no longer represents the unbeatable presence that he once did. In fact nobody is even scared of Tiger anymore. Even Bubba Watson, who has never won a major, took to giving him some advice on his swing:
"I think he’s so mental right now with his swing. Just go ahead and play golf. He used to hit shots, he used to bomb it, he used to do all that stuff."
Now a lot of us may have been thinking that too but nobody would have ever dared say it.
This drama has somewhat been returned to the game now with Rory McIlroy's historic performance at this weekend's US Open. McIlroy is playing brilliant golf. His aggressive attitude is reaping major rewards as he enters the final day with an eight shot lead.
While his golf is what is attracting the eyes of the sport's year round fans, it is the potential for drama that is causing the rest of the world to tune in.
A little over two months ago McIlroy entered the final day of the US Masters with a formidable lead not unlike to what is happening today. He threw away a four shot lead after a final round of 80 to not even finish in the top 10.
A lot of analysts put his poor play down to nerves and worried that he would not be able to rebound from it. At 22 years of age however, the talented northern Irish man has shown great maturity.
Not only did McIlroy respectfully carry himself in interviews after that competition, he also celebrated with Charl Schwartzel who was the man who nipped ahead of him to win the Masters. It was actually McIlroy's idea to get a picture with Schwartzel to share with his twitter followers. Schwartzel had hid the jacket rather than put it in his face just a day after winning it.
This is one of the traits of McIlroy that is making many people anxious to see, and almost nervous for him, to win this weekend. At 22 years of age he has all the ability and potential he needs to become the next great golfer but today will be the determining factor for the rest of his career if he wins, if not the Masters will be.
This drama is what has re-sparked my interest in Golf. As a casual fan I may not be able to tell you all the minute details of every golfer left in the field. However I'll be watching on, just like the rest of you will, because everyone loves a story line.
Especially one so dramatic as this.
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