The indelible image Rory brings to winning these major championships in a rout is a huge smile, something fans find incredibly endearing and fun to root for. His eight-shot victory in the PGA Championship at Kiawah this weekend makes him a “multiple major winner”, number one in the world golf ranking, and a shoe-in to dominate all golf discussion from now through the Ryder Cup.
Jim Nance said at the end of the broadcast that when Rory won the U.S. Open by 8 furlongs at Congressional last summer it brought a smile to the game. Well if that was a smile then this time it is a Cheshire grin. He was 11-under over the last 36 holes and completely dominated the best field of the year on a course that was borderline psychotic. And this was the second time he orchestrated this scenario in a major in the last 14 months.
The fact is that he is just 23 years old and joins a very short list of Jack, Seve, and Tiger who have won two majors at such an early age. He shares with these guys the rare ability, in the heat of a major championship, to hyper focus his attention, block out the distractions that are derailing the competition, and let the gift of his talents produce play that separates him from the field.
What ingratiates him to the viewing public is the unfettered joy he brings to the arena. In contrast to the other guy who wears the red shirt on Sunday and seems to want to strangle a rattlesnake in the process, Rory has a sublime sense of calm as he is disarming the golf course and the field of competitors in pursuit. He has a respectful demeanor to his adversaries and an outward appreciation for the adulation of the fans who acknowledge his accomplishments.
In the post game interviews he shows equal measure of confidence in his ability and humility for what it all really means. When his accomplishments are compared to Jack or Tiger his response is that he is flattered by such comparisons but he feels he has a long way to go before justifying such associations.
He is also cognizant of the fact that his accomplishments make him a role model to thousands of kids around the world who look up to him as the new wunderkind. Instead of seeing this as a burden he says he sees it as an honor and something he keeps in mind as he comports himself every day pursuing his craft.
Anyone who saw his performance this weekend can only be in awe of his ability to compose his talents with such grace under pressure. It is just possible that time and accumulated accomplishments will put him in the category of the greats who have ever played the game. For now we will have to accept that this very bright star is illuminating the golf horizon, there for all of us to gaze on in wonder and thoroughly enjoy.