Although Tiger Woods’ career imploded in a media storm of scandal and outrage, it was thought by many that the damage, though serious, would prove to be temporary and that he would eventually regain his rightful place at the apex of professional golf – the best golfer in the world, perhaps the best there has ever been. His transgressions were not golf related and there seemed no reason why he shouldn’t come back to his usual winning ways once he had dealt with the traumas in his personal life.
After all, this winner of fourteen majors had and has talent and dedication to the game never seen before. Tiger seemed like an unstoppable winning machine and his record of success was second to none. The prospect of anyone displacing him as the world’s number one appeared unlikely, such was the spectacular gift he had for golf.
Today, however, there is much talk of Rory McIlroy becoming Tiger’s nemesis, the man who could replace him as the world’s best. McIlroy’s incredible eight-shot victory at this year’s US Open has seen many predict that the young Ulsterman will go on to eclipse Tiger’s achievements. Winning such a prestigious tournament at the young age of twenty two means that McIlroy has shown he has the talent, ability and mental fortitude to go on to win many more majors.
Luke Donald, the current world number one, has predicted that McIlroy will eventually be more successful than Tiger. He has been quoted as saying that McIlroy has the edge in terms of raw talent for golf and that with the right attitude and perseverance he will win more tournaments over the coming years.
Tiger, on the other hand, has not performed as well as most people expected as he attempts a comeback. Although still young and reportedly still hungry for success, his results since his re-entry into the world of top-class golf have not met expectations. Although he did recently win the Chevron World Challenge, this is not considered by most to be a serious tournament, restricted as it is to eighteen players.
Despite those fourteen majors and sixty-eight other tournament wins, Tiger currently sits at 21st in the world player rankings, while McIlroy vies for the number one spot. It is too soon to write Tiger off, of course and McIlroy will have to win many more tournaments to prove himself a worth challenger, but all the signs are that the younger man may prove in the end to be the better player.
For amateur golf players and enthusiasts this is an enthralling contest. A weekend game, perhaps taking advantage of 2 fore 1 golf vouchers, may seem distant from this clash of the titans, but golf is golf wherever and whenever it is played, a fascinating and addictive sport at every level.