Rory McIlroy: Young Record-Setter Now World's 4th Best Golfer

Will BrownContributor IJune 20, 2011

BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland speaks with the media after his eight-stroke during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

En route to setting a ton of U.S. Open records over the weekend, Rory McIlroy officially set the golf world on fire. People, including myself, are already wondering (and hoping) that we are entering golf's next great era.

I don't think anyone questions his ability or his star potential and we all have to agree that it may be too soon to proclaim McIlroy as the next great golfer. Though, Graeme McDowell did say that, "He's the best I've ever seen."

Pretty big compliment coming from one of your peers.

After ranking eighth heading into the U.S. Open, McIlroy moved up four spots in the Official World Golf Ranking and is closing in on the top spot in the world, held by Luke Donald.

I could definitely see McIlroy as the world's top player as we head into 2012, if not sooner. He has had people talk about him as the possible next great since he was 16 or 17, and he seems to be living up to expectations.

McIlroy has led seven of the last eight major rounds, only faltering rather badly on Sunday in Augusta. Many were questioning how he would come back after losing a chance to win the Masters, but McIlroy showed exactly how good he can be this weekend and showed that it isn't bothering him.

I know some people will say the course was the easiest ever and all that, but I don't see how you can still look at it and not say that McIlroy was the best player by far this past weekend. It really wasn't even close.

Now the 22-year-old needs to turn his attention to the British Open from July 14-to-July 17, and I think as of right now he must go into the tournament as the favorite. The Open is being held at the beautiful Royal St. George, and McIlroy will have the target on his back from his competition and will have all the media's attention. 

McIlroy has played very well over the last four majors though, so there is no real reason to suspect that he will falter by any great amount. McIlroy finished up tied for third last year in the British Open, ending up with a score of eight-under for the tournament.

There's a good chance that he won't win the British Open, but I wouldn't put it past him to end up in the top 10 or top three again, and doing so will put him in even better position to move up to the No. 1 spot in the world.