Rory McIlroy is ready to replace Tiger Woods as top dog

 

One wonders if Tiger Woods switched on his television on Sunday to watch Rory McIlroy win at Wentworth and Adam Scott make a statement as world No 1 with victory in Texas. Might he have felt old?

There is no doubt the golfing circus misses Woods but the 25-year-old Northern Irishman and the 33-year-old Australian could be about to set the season alight. The injury-prone Woods, now 38 years old, is no longer the alpha male.

After victory at the BMW PGA Championship, McIlroy announced he is ready to take the baton from Woods. “The game is waiting for one or two guys to kick on,” he said. “I’d like to be that guy, and I’d like to think this is a springboard to doing something like that. There are still three majors to play this year. So even though we’re nearly halfway through the season, I feel like mine’s just beginning.”

The US Open tees off on 12 June at Pinehurst in North Carolina. With Woods likely to be absent, all eyes will be on the 2011 champion. The course has been redesigned, with the trademark jungle rough replaced by a links-like sandy wasteland and wide fairways.

“I hear it’s going to be a long course, which I’m looking forward to. I don’t mind that at all, getting the driver in the hand. It would suit me,” he said. “And obviously the greens are very tricky at Pinehurst, a lot of run-offs and slopes. You’ll have to be very imaginative around the greens.”

McIlroy is averaging 314 yards with the driver this season, and his short game is razor sharp. He chipped in for a birdie at the 10th on the way to victory at Wentworth, then executed sublime wedge shots at the 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th. “It does my confidence a world of good for the US Open,” McIlroy said.

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