2011 U.S. Open Golf: Is Rory McIlroy Golf's Next Big Superstar?

David KindervaterCorrespondent IJune 20, 2011

BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

Twenty-four hours after winning the U.S. Open Championship, Rory McIlroy is suddenly a household name.

I think his fame will be far from short-lived. And, in turn, the same will hold true for his fortunes.

Rory McIlroy is golf's next big superstar. And he's here to stay.

The conversations throughout the sports world yesterday and today, myself included, have compared McIlroy to Tiger Woods. And to a certain extent, those are justifiable discussions. After all, like Woods, McIlroy is a young player who cruised past his peers in a major championship and broke all sorts of records in the process.

But maybe that's where the comparisons should stop for now.

McIlroy is a long way from what Tiger Woods was. And he would be the first to tell you that.

"He's Tiger Woods," McIlroy said during his post-round presser yesterday. "I'm just happy to be sitting here with the trophy that has his name on it."

I'm not shoveling dirt on Woods' grave just yet. He already has far more on his golf resume than McIlroy. In fact, far more is an understatement. Plus, Woods changed the game of golf as we know it and became an icon for the sport.

McIlroy, in all likelihood, will never reach that kind of status, even if he wins numerous major championships, which I think he will.

He'll just be a really good golfer. Maybe one of the best. Maybe the best in the world.

But this discussion isn't really about McIlroy vs. Woods.

It's about whether or not Rory McIlroy is golf's next big superstar and the answer, again, is an emphatic yes.

With his wire-to-wire win Sunday, McIlroy jumped from eighth place to fourth place in the Official World Golf Ranking. And I think it's only a matter of time before he occupies the top spot for a considerable amount of time.

He's that good.

McIlroy has all the natural talent in the world. If he continues to work hard, there's no telling just how many tournament victories—especially majors—he can collect.

He's been hinting at greatness for the past year. And with yesterday's U.S. Open victory, he achieved it. Now we'll see if he can become a dominant force in the world of golf.