Archive for June, 2011

When Rory McIlroy spring-heeled onto the PGA European Golf Tour four years ago, people in the know told us the kid was a bit special. After a stunning eight-shot victory in the US Open we can now appreciate just how special.

Not only did the Northern Irishman shred the record books, he also laid to rest the bogey of a dramatic capitulation at the Masters two months’ earlier. At Augusta National, McIlroy squandered a four-shot final round lead to finish nowhere. Afterwards he would say that the Masters was a “little speed bump but no more than that.”

At Congressional, he became the youngest US Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923 and the youngest major winner since Tiger Woods triumphed at the Masters in 1997.

He posted rounds of 65, 66, 68 and 69 to finish 16 under par. Along the way he became the quickest player to reach -10 (after 26 holes), the first player to reach -17 and produced the lowest 36-hole total of 131 in a major.

Nursing a wounded reputation and recuperating from knee surgery, Woods, doubtless thumbing the pages of his latest Nike ad script, would have thrown envious glances at his TV set while McIlroy was etching his name in history. Woods himself won the US Open by 15 strokes at Pebble Beach in 2000.

He was on an inevitable journey to usurp Jack Nicklaus as the greatest major winner of all time. Woods had amassed 14 titles to the Golden Bear’s 18.

He was also one wayward dalliance from golfing self-destruction. Or 13 rounds of night putting, depending on your maths proficiency or tabloid reading habits.

Woods must now accept that he is not the most compelling golfer on the planet. That honour goes to a freckly-faced, tousled-haired kid from Holywood, County Down.

When Woods returns from injury he will confront a youngster who has the potential to dominate golf as he once did, and thus derail his attempt on Nicklaus’s record.

As for the Nicklaus himself, he likes what he sees in McIlroy.

“He’s got a great golf swing, his rhythm is beautiful,” Nicklaus says. “He also has a great short game and I like the way he walks. He is a little cocksure about himself and I like that in a guy, to have confidence in what you are doing.

“I think this kid is going to have a great career, no question. He has all the components, he has a lot of people rooting for him and he is a nice kid. He is a pleasant personality, humble when he needs to be humble and confident when he needs to be confident.”

As for the record, McIlroy has time on his side. For Woods, unless he can rediscover his aura, regain his form and gather up what’s left of his composure, the clock may have stopped.

The great British culture clash

Seems like the British Olympic Association has been a bit previous with the announcement of a ‘historic agreement’ with the English Football Association to field a British soccer team at London 2012.

No sooner had a triumphant press release dropped in the inbox than a joint statement from the other nations kiboshed the claim.

The BOA’s release said: “We are pleased the team will be selected from players across the home nations and I’d like to thank our counterparts at the Welsh, Irish and Scottish FAs for their understanding on a difficult issue.”

The release also quoted FA general secretary Alex Horne. “We’re delighted there will be football teams representing Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics,” he said.

The retort from the other home nations was blunt. “No discussions took place with any of us, far less [has any] historic agreement been reached,” it stated.

“The Football Associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland reiterate our collective opposition to Team GB participation at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, contrary to the media release issued by the BOA.”

The FA’s release follows the recent announcement that of the 2.3 million tickets that remain for Olympic events, 1.7 million of these are for soccer.

FPE has two questions on the subject.

Is the BOA/FA’s rush to announce a non-existent GB entry in anyway related to the sluggish take-up of tickets?

Just exactly how deluded is the English FA?


Read Full Post »