March 22, 2012
It is not entirely about a rivalry, imagined or not, between Woods and McIlroy. It’s about golf’s survival. Some will say McIlroy is just the latest media darling, a cash cow. But after years of dismal ratings and dull story lines, golf needs him. The top spot has bounced between a few players since the Woods scandal broke in late 2009. And in that time, the sport suffered and TV ratings plummeted. For broadcasters and golf fans, The McIlroy Machine means big business. McIlroy is a fresh breeze.
Rory certainly is a very worthy No. 1 golfer in the world. We have not had somebody play to the level of Tiger, and so we have four, five, six guys that are battling for the No. 1 spot, it seems, like monthly. I don’t know where it will all settle.
That top spot means top money. McIlroy’s off-course earnings were $5.9 million in 2011, according to Forbes. He earned $8.2 million on the course. On top of his major sponsor deals, McIlroy stands to bank a sizable bonus for reaching the top spot. That money should greatly increase throughout 2012.
But it’s about the big show, and right now that’s The Masters at Augusta, Georgia, starting April 2nd. The sports world will be watching. And out of all the watchers, writers, and 19th-hole barstool prophets, Ivan Little of The Belfast Telegraph has the earned and clear edge on his fellow Irishman:
[E]very golfing commentator in America has had their say, and although there were the odd begrudgers who reckoned Tiger Woods would soon be back in the driving seat, the writers were in the main raving about Rory.
Golf scribe Doug Ferguson says Rory is set to shine:
McIlroy has consistency and power, a lethal combination and there doesn”t appear to be any swing changes along the way.
Then there is McIlroy’s ease and connection with the gallery which, noted one reporter, “perhaps explains why one fan during the third round asked him what shampoo he used.”
Again, that hair.