What has been happening in the golf world since Rory McIlroy's 2011 U.S. Open win is getting under my skin to the point that I have to say something.
It is neither poignant nor prudent to compare McIlroy to Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus. He is his own man, his own player, with his own set of skills, his own strengths and his own timeline.
Sure, it's refreshing to have someone so young win a major. Sure, there's the incredible storyline after what he went through at the Masters and how he overcame it.
But anyone can see that. Anyone can say, "Man, that kid can play." Or, "Man, that kid has potential." But to hear sportscasters jump so incredibly quick at the chance to draw comparisons between McIlroy and golf greats...well, frankly it makes them look like asses.
Sure, McIlroy is now a few months younger than Nicklaus was when he won his first major, but he's older than Tiger was, and who cares anyway?
McIlroy has played in over 100 European Tour and PGA Tour tournaments to this day, and has only won 3.
In Tiger's first 100 tournaments, he won over 20. He was a phenom.
And while McIlroy was fresh in the forefront of the public consciousness thanks to the Masters debacle, he's not phenom. He's not inspiring fear and hopelessness in his opponents, and he's not winning at an unbelievable rate for such a young player.
He is, however, obviously talented, with unlimited potential. That is what sportscasters should be focusing on.
Focus on the player and his accomplishments and the records he's breaking; don't hype him into fabled territory and slap a label of expected greatness on him that will add pressure and haunt him when he falls short.
He's 22 years old, for crying out loud.
Perhaps take a moment away from the teleprompter to cease the hyperbole comparisons and focus on the contrast for a second. Point out that he's done something NO one else has done, with his record low score for all four rounds of the U.S. Open or his record 17 strokes under par at one point.
Focus on the fact that he handled his Masters meltdown with composure that Tiger couldn't dream of, and conducted himself at the U.S. Open with confidence and candor in a way that puts reporters and viewers at ease and puts Tiger's prickly, assh*le demeanor to shame.
The things that separate McIlroy from the pack should be celebrated, not the things that lump him in with others—he has a whole career ahead of him to prove that he's deserving of that.
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