Twenty-five-year-old Rory McIlroy didn’t just accept the torch from Tiger Woods, he yanked it out of his fist. His win at the PGA Championship last week was McIlory’s second major championship win of 2014 and the fourth of his short career.

He has won four of the last 11 majors contested and the last two consecutive majors at Royal Liverpool and Valhalla.

Rory McIlroy with the Wanamaker Trophy.

Woods won five majors before he turned 26 years old. McIlroy does not turn 26 until May next year. To keep pace with Woods, he will need a win at the Masters in April and a Green Jacket would also complete a career grand slam for McIlroy.

Guess who else also won all four major championships by the age of 26? You got it, Eldrick “Tiger” Woods.

Fellow Irishmen Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell announced the prowess of the young Rory while he was still a teenager, winning junior tournaments around the world. They saw the greatness even then and predicted lofty achievements for the lad from Holywood.

They were right.

Jack Nicklaus won four majors while still 25 years old, but did not complete his first career grand slam until he was 26, with a win in the 1966 British Open.

Bobby Jones won five majors prior to reaching 26 years of age, but didn’t finish off the career grand slam until he was 28.

With four major championships McIlroy joins a very elite group of golfers. Only 28 players have won four or more major championships in their career.

McIlroy has also won majors by large margins. He won the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA Championship by eight shots. By comparison, Woods won the 1997 Masters by nine shots and the 2000 U.S. Open by 10 strokes.

Arnold Palmer congratulates Jack Nicklaus at the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont.

In 1962 Jack Nicklaus won the U.S. Open over Arnold Palmer at Oakmont and overtook Palmer as the best player in the world. Nicklaus was 10 years younger than the “King,” and it was a hard pill for “Arnie’s Army” to swallow.

McIlroy is 17 years younger than Woods, but no one expected a successor to be found that could come close to matching Woods phenomenal accomplishments this quickly.

With Woods missing the cut at Valhalla, McIlroy also had to beat another Hall of Fame member down the stretch, Phil Mickelson.

McIlroy enters a much higher category than any other golfer currently playing on the PGA Tour. His competition now becomes past champions and he must find his place in the record books beside, Jones, Hogan, Snead, Nicklaus and Woods.

We witnessed the passing of the torch from the 38-year-old Woods to a much younger and healthier, Rory McIlroy.

 

(This article first posted at eDraft.com)

 

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Mirim Lee with the Meijer LPGA Classic trophy.

Inbee Park took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Meijer LPGA Classic on Sunday, but her one-under-par 69 was not enough to hold off LPGA Tour rookie Mirim Lee.

Lee from South Korea said in her post-round interview,

“Inbee Park is like hero in Korea, so I just long to (be) her, yeah, think I just follow her.”

With four birdies and two bogeys on her card on Sunday, Lee did not do much following.

She was able to catch Park and the two players finished the regulation 72 holes tied at 14-under-par for the tournament.

Lee said about her first LPGA Tour playoff,

“I nervous 100 percent, because first time playoff on LPGA Tour, so I’m really nervous, but very fun.”

Both Lee and Park made pars on the first playoff hole, but Lee was able to birdie the second for the win.

This was just Lee’s second top-10 finish of the year. The $225,000 first-place check gives Lee $445,000 in total earnings for the year and she moves to No. 18 in the Race to the CME Globe. If not for Lydia Ko, she would be a contender for LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors.

Former world No.1 Park won earlier this season at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic and has 10 top-10 finishes this year. She is No. 4 in the Race to the CME Globe and No. 3 in the Rolex Rankings.

Blythefield Country Club proved to be a great venue for the Meijer LPGA Classic. It is a wonderful combination of rolling terrain, deep bunkering and challenging green complexes. The fairways are somewhat forgiving, but it is definitely an advantage to keep your ball on the short grass.

Larger crowds than expected streamed through the turnstiles and perfect weather made watching the best women golfers in the world a true delight for Michigan golf fans.

 

(This article is also posted at edraft.com)

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Phil Mickelson Brings the ‘Thrill’ Factor to the Memorial Tournament

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