Tiger's resurgence is the best thing that could happen to Rory McIlroy
Why Tiger Woods' resurgence is the best thing to happen to Rory McIlroy.
You know what wasn't very fun?
Pressure-cooked, too-intense, not-enjoying-himself Rory McIlroy.
We've come to expect such things from Tiger Woods over the years: surly barbs at reporters, f-bombs off the tee, tossed clubs ... and more.
The blinders Woods wears are what 1.) create his sometimes-nasty persona and 2.) make him so unequivocally great.
We convinced ourselves, however, that Rory McIlroy was more like us (hell, he is like us).
Well, as like us as a sweet-swinging Ulsterman with a world-class athlete for a girlfriend and a multimillion-dollar contract with a major shoe company can be.
We convinced ourselves he loved golf and would always love golf and that he would be funny and witty no matter how big his image got. That he wouldn't be affected by stardom.
As we found out at the Honda Classic a few weeks ago, we were wrong.
Being No. 1 did affect him, the contract with Nike did weigh on him, and McIlroy stopped playing golf for the enjoyment.
He said so himself about his toothache withdrawal at the Honda Classic:
I think in the long run Friday will be a blessing in disguise. It was like it just sort of released a valve and all that pressure I was putting on myself just went away. I was like 'just go out and have fun.' It's not life or death out there and I had sort of forgotten that this year.
And you know what the best thing that could ever happen to a down-and-out Rory McIlroy was?
The Tiger Woods train is rolling again and it's headed straight toward Augusta National. You know who's not feeling the hot breath of the media and fans on his neck anymore?
McIlroy told ESPN on Wednesday:
[Tiger's] been the man in golf for the last 15 years, I guess, and it's great for golf to have him playing well and, you know, hopefully I can just try and keep up with him. ... it's nice to just go ... not just go about my business and no one cares, but you go about it and not be, I guess, the most talked about person in golf. It's a nice thing.
Woods was born for this (the commercials tell us that, anyway) -- to play the role of the one being chased, to be the frontrunner, to sit on the throne.
He wants you to come at him because he takes great pleasure in putting you back in your place, you commoner.
He craves lordship over the golf universe and though he despises the trappings that go along with such things, he doesn't care enough to pretend like he cares.
Rory McIlroy just wants to have fun.
So as we whip around Texas for a quick two-step of tournaments and head toward Georgia, the pressure is finally off world the No. 2 McIlroy.
He can breathe again, because Tiger is once again the axis upon which this whole thing is spinning.
Just the way they both like it.
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