It was Rory McIlroy's Usain Bolt moment. Racing to his record-breaking, eight-shot second major victory on Sunday at the US PGA, McIlroy was so far ahead of his rivals he was able to jog over the line with a grin as wide as the South Carolina coastline.
It was every bit as jaw-dropping and joyous as Bolt's sprint double in London. "There is a huge feelgood factor in Great Britain and in Ireland from the Olympics," McIlroy said. "I am happy I was able to personally cap it off with a win."
McIlroy's 13-under-par score was pure gold. While Bolt threw his signature lightning bolt shape, McIlroy merely waved his cap to the crowd that was cheering his name then hugged his father, Gerry, and cried. McIlroy's trademark hair and freckly, boyish face reminded us that the boy from Belfast, who keeps on delivering Holywood moments, is just 23. And already he is rewriting golf's record books. Of the many records he broke on Sunday, the names he erased were Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. This victory felt like the baton was being passed on.
Woods is now 36. He's no longer cool. Children now want to be McIlroy. "I realise every time my face is on TV that I am a role model," he said. "I try to do my best and put myself across as honestly and as modestly as possible. Some can view it as a big responsibility, but if you just go about your life and live it normally, everything's OK."
McIlroy is back to world No 1 and it feels like golf has a smile on its face after the scowling years of Woods. People used to be in awe of Woods, but it's different with McIlroy. People love him. McIlroy has brought to golf what Bolt has to athletics. But while there is brashness to Bolt, there is a charming modesty to McIlroy. He almost blushes when he is mentioned in the same breath as Woods and Nicklaus. "I don't know. I mean, I've won my second major at the same age as Tiger had," McIlroy said. "But he went on that incredible run and won so many. I'd love to tell you I'm going to do the same, but I just don't know."
McIlroy almost didn't know what to say about breaking Nicklaus's record margin of victory. "It's nice to break a record like that, especially of Jack Nicklaus, who is the most successful player of all time so far."
The "so far" was a nice touch – and revealing. Winning this second major so quickly after the first could be his launchpad to greatness.
- More about: