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May 4, 2010 - Al Stephenson
On a day when Tiger Woods shot a me-like 79 and missed the cut, Rory McIlroy (did you notice that a capital "eye" and a lower case "el" look exactly alike here) struggled to make the cut at +1. Tiger struggled on the back nine shooting 43 - I have done that, albeit not on a course as tough as Quail Hollow - to make some question his ability to resurrect his game following personal problems.
I would not be so quick to write Tiger off, but he certainly took a back seat to some young hotshots this past weekend. If the exploits of McIlroy, Ryo Ishikawa and Michelle Wie are any indication, the game of golf is in good hands for years to come.
All McIlroy did was go from making the cut on the line to winning the PGA tour event in dominating fashion. His 6-under 66 on Saturday moved him into contention and then what he did on Sunday was nothing short of miraculous. He broke the course record by two strokes, rolling in a 40 foot putt for birdie on 18 for a round of 62.
His performance on the last five holes made for mesmerizing TV as he birdied 14, eagled 15, birdied 16, had par on 17 (only because his lengthy birdie putt, which was halfway down into the hole came squirting back out) and birdied the last to make the crowd roar in amazement. I actually came out of my seat at home.
The last three holes at Quail Hollow are known as the Green Mile and the cumulative average of golfers on those three holes is a half stroke OVER par. McIlroy, who turns 21 today, played them at 2 UNDER and had the golf world buzzing. Now here's the kicker. His round was not the best of the day!
Ryo Ishikawa shot an unheard of 58 to win the Japan Open. OK, OK - par on that course is only 70 and therefore the 59's of Al Geiberger, Chip Beck and David Duval were actually 13 under scores, but 58 folks is 58! Ishikawa won for the seventh time in his career - and get this - Ishikawa is only 18 years old!!!!
Not to be outdone, 20-year-old Michelle Wie nearly won for the second time on the LPGA tour coming up just two strokes short in her attempt to match her young peers.
The view from my seat suggests that the youth shall be served, at least in the world of golf.
Also for your information it was not all young people who played fantastic golf last weekend. Ai Miyazato, the winner of the LPGA event, is already 24!
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