Redemption: Thy Name is McIlroy
Rory McIlroy won the 2011 U.S. Open on Sunday at 17 strokes under par. It was a week-long virtuoso performance bolstered by the fact that just two months ago McIlroy blew a four stroke lead in the final round of the Masters. The epic disaster that was the Irishman’s final round at Augusta had the golf world wondering if he would ever recover. He did. Spectacularly.
Masters viewers won’t soon forget McIlroy’s collapse in April. Particularly, his triple bogey seven on the tenth hole which featured a snap-hooked drive and two different shots that found a tree and came back at him. The LeBron James-esq (or Greg Norman-esq if you’d prefer a golf analogy) choke job was as gut wrenching as it was tragic. But the twenty-one year old handled the defeat with more class than you could possibly expect from someone who still can’t rent a car in the States (certainly more class and maturity than “King James”). He earned a lot of fans that day, fans that would be rooting for him when he took to the tee box at the U.S. Open.
But the question remained, could McIlroy recover from what had to be an epic and humbling blow to his psyche. Well, McIlroy answered in a huge way this week at Congressional. He took control after the first day and would never relinquish it, leading the tournament by himself after every round. The Open is supposed to be the test of a golfer’s game, the hardest major, both mentally and physically; McIlroy barely broke a sweat. He played unfathomably well. He became only the fifth man to play all four rounds of the U.S. Open under par. He became the first to reach -13 in an Open. He was also the first to reach -14, -15, -16, and -17. He won by nine strokes! It was an absolute demolition. For God sakes, he only bogeyed four holes all weekend!!! I couldn’t play that well with unlimited mulligans and unlimited gimmies…on a mini-golf course.
For anyone else, this is a historic, record setting performance. But because it’s this (now) twenty-two year old Irish man, bouncing back from a horrific final round at the Masters, this is one of the stories of the year. You literally could not script a better tale. I mean heck, the inexperienced, prone to implosion Roy McAvoy had to lose the U.S. Open in “Tin Cup.” – SIDE NOTE: If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check it out. It’s fantastic. – But McIlroy brushed away his demons and brushed back the field.
The man who was so much the center of drama at the Masters played so well this weekend that the only drama on the 72nd hole , in a tournament that has seen so much of it, was whether or not McIlroy could at least seven putt from one foot. He could. This was as impressive a golf display as I’ve seen. So many wondered whether the Masters blow-up would haunt him in this major as well. But, in a game that is so mental, McIlroy showed incredible strength to battle through any Masters memories and cruise to an easy victory.
Well, there’s not much more to say. The scorecard speaks for itself; there’s nothing I can say that this golf swing doesn’t. Many will say that this is the first of many for McIlroy, and given this weekend it’s hard to say anything else. So congratulations to Rory McIlroy on this win; a win oh so sweet, made just a bit sweeter by the taste of redemption. Rory McIlroy, 2011 U.S. Open Champion.