The golf world was falling in love with Jordan Spieth – and it still is, really – but Rory McIlroy’s dominating performance at the Wells Fargo Championship this past weekend left no doubt as to who the game’s best player is.
McIlroy, the top-ranked golfer in the world, became the first two-time winner of the Wells Fargo Championship, finishing with a 21-under-267 to beat Webb Simpson and Patrick Rodgers by seven strokes. McIlroy shattered the tournament record by five strokes, this after shooting 11-under on Saturday.
Is it safe to say McIlroy is head and shoulders the best golfer in the world?
In a word, yes.
“When he plays his best, no one can really compete with him right now,” pro golfer Hunter Mahan said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “When he hits his driver 320 down the middle like that, he’s playing another golf course that no one else can play. Spieth is great. He is gritty, he’s tough, he’s a great putter – but he’s not going to make the course look as easy as Rory can. So as great as Spieth is, Rory is quite a bit ahead. I think (Rickie) Fowler has lots of talent, but I don’t think he’s at those guys’ level. We’ll see. Time will tell, but Rory has a huge, huge future. He’s going to do a lot of great things in golf.”
Fowler, in case you’ve forgotten, finished in the top five at all four majors last year and had top-three finishes at the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship, including a pair of runner-ups. Based on last year alone, it’s fair to say Fowler has the game to compete with McIlroy and Spieth, right?
“I think he does,” Mahan said. “He can play on the big stage, there’s no doubt about it. It just seems like Rory almost has more room for error. His bad weeks are top 10s now and top 15s. He’s really turned into a player that can play well each week and at all kinds of different golf courses.”
And then, of course, there’s Tiger Woods, who is going through swing coaches like Kim Kardashian goes through husbands. Doug Gottlieb compared Woods to former NFL quarterback Jason Campbell, who had four different offensive coordinators at Auburn and a new one seemingly every year he played in the NFL. On some level, the terms are verbiage are the same; on another level, they’re not at all.
Are there too many voices in Woods’ head?
“If you’re not clear and know exactly what you want to do and what you’re trying to do and where you’re trying to go, it’s very hard to play golf because there’s so many things to worry about,” said Mahan, who has finished in the top eight at all four majors. “I don’t know where Tiger is, but if he’s not focused, if he’s not clear on what he needs to do with each swing and understand it, he’s going to struggle – and any player would. Being clear and being focused and totally understanding what you’re doing is extremely important in any sport – or anything that you’re doing.”