Rory McIlroy provided a golden reminder of what real golf looks like with Canadian Open win
Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas were the fiercest critics of the Saudi-backed LIV circuit, so it was only fitting that they had to pick the launch week to hold an epic duel at the Canadian Open on Sunday. and demonstrate what golf at its best really looks like.
McIlroy, who emerged victorious this time, was particularly pleased to gain a lead over Saudi Commander-in-Chief Greg Norman with 21 PGA Tour victories to his name.
In the past 50 years, only three players have reached that total at a younger age than 33-year-old McIlroy and they were all born in the US: Tom Watson, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Rory McIlroy Claimed Canadian Open After Beating Competition From Justin Thomas
Justin Thomas (left) and McIlroy were vocal against the Saudi-backed rebels
“It’s a day I’ll remember for a long time and one of the reasons for it is to visit Greg, it certainly gave me extra motivation,” admitted the ever-candid McIlroy, who has never made it a secret that the Marmite Australian is not on his Christmas card list.
“The guy leading that other tour that was across the pond, I was tied up with him and I wanted one for him. And I did. Just a little proud of that thing.’
The arch-traditionalist seems to have made it his mission to do whatever it takes to save golf from himself and you only had to watch him being embraced by Canadian fans to realize that all sane golf fans are in his corner. all the way.
After Tiger Woods, McIlroy must now be the most popular golfer in the world.
McIlroy made a point by saying he has overtaken Greg Norman in terms of PGA Tour wins
The most encouraging thing about McIlroy’s last round 62 to beat the new PGA champion was how good he was with a wedge in his hands. Previously his weakest point, it was his strongest on this day as almost everyone he hit danced around the hole.
“It’s a big step forward for me, something I probably couldn’t have done before,” McIlroy confessed.
On to Brookline then, and another effort to end the drought of his majors.
The last player to win the week before a Grand Slam and then also claim the major? That would be Rory, and his last win in one of the big four at the PGA in 2014.
Brookline’s Rich History – Both Bad and Good
When it comes to the best and worst of times, perhaps no other golf club in America has a legacy like that of the Country Club at Brookline near Boston, the scene of this week’s US Open.
In this country, it is best remembered as the venue for the 1999 Ryder Cup, the one where the American team, buoyed by an unlikely comeback in singles, raced en masse to the 17th green while Jose Maria Olazabal had yet to putt, a fitting climax for an event where the game probed new depths.
What a contrast to the other milestone in the club’s rich history and a truly groundbreaking US Open in 1913 widely regarded as the birthplace of the American game.
Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, two of the great British pros who dominated the sport’s early years, were the favourites, but lost in a play-off to a local caddy named Francis Ouimet in the game’s biggest disappointment.
Brookline hosts the US Open this week and is often remembered for all the wrong reasons
The humble Ouimet first put the sport on the front pages of America and led to its great awakening.
“In terms of game growth, three Americans stand out: Ouimet, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods,” USGA’s Mike Trostel told The Quadrilateral’s website.
“He was America’s first golf hero. At the same time, his humility and working-class roots helped lift the perception that golf was taken only for the elite. The win sparked national interest in the game before public courses existed.”
In America, there was no shortage of interest in 1999 when their team overcame a four-point deficit after two days to win back the Ryder Cup after two consecutive defeats.
In the excitement, many people lost sight of everything that had gone before. None of the Ryder Cups I’ve covered since come close to those outrageous scenes. I can still hear the banshee howl of an American wag yelling, “Get in the thick rough!” when a European rookie drive went awry early in a singles match.
Colin Montgomerie, pictured earlier this month, was subjected to horrific abuse at Brookline
She then jumped up and down as if she’d holed the winning putt herself when the ball ended up in the thick stuff. The public took their lead by her example.
‘The arrival of the golf hooligan’, is how the incomparable writer Alistair Cooke put it.
The man who suffered, of course, was Colin Montgomerie. It was so bad that his father James, a former Royal Throne secretary, had to get off the job and stop watching. The late great Payne Stewart was so embarrassed that he allowed a 25ft putt on the 18th to Monty, confirming a brave win for the Scotsman.
As far as the values of the game go, Brookline has witnessed the two extremes.
After last week’s horrific spectacle in St Albans, we can only hope that this staging of America’s national championship leans more towards Ouimet, and perhaps the most evocative US Open of all.