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June 18, 2011 - Al Stephenson
Parity in sports is something that most people desire. No one liked the Celtics, Yankees and even UCLA in college hoops winning all the time. Well, maybe fans of those teams. Most people want to see a different winner once in a while. Golf is no different.
Yet golf is different in that it is an individual sport. Most viewers want to see a competitive tournament, but we also want to see something spectacular. Great shots, record scores - even margin of victory when it's great - is to be cherished by the typical sports fan.
So we tuned in to watch Jack Nicklaus wow us. Then came Tiger Woods and his fabulous game. We watched to see greatness and they rarely disappointed. Well Nicklaus no longer plays and Tiger has had a resounding fall from grace both on and off the course. So we are reduced to parity. Anyone can win any given tournament. That's good, but will there be greatness again?
If you are following the U.S. Open, you know that greatness may indeed be on the horizon. Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy has shaken off his demise at Augusta with a couple of record setting rounds at Congressional. Yesterday he went where no golfer ever has at a U.S. Open. When he birdied the 17th he sat at 13-under par, a score no one had ever achieved. He then proceeded to double bogey 18 and had to settle for a score of 11-under par heading to today's third round.
That puts him 6 shots up on Y.E. Yang, the PGA champ from a couple of years ago, and 9 up on the rest of the field. Can McIlroy close the deal, unlike the Masters? Only time will tell, but you have to love that swing and his youthful exuberance.
The view from my seat would suggest that it can be good to have a dominant figure or team in sports, if for no other reason that it eventually gives us somebody to root against. Eventually we get tired of the same winner no matter how much he or they thrill us with their game.
I would be surprised if Rory McIlroy doesn't put us in that position.
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