SAPAKOFF COLUMN: 2012 PGA Championship is tied to Rory McIlroy
Normal people are back on the Ocean Course this weekend, taking advantage of what last week's PGA Championship helped make one of the best values in premier American golf: $261, not including caddy, shrimp or grits.
“The average score out here is probably about 110,” veteran Ocean Course caddy Nate Ross said.
Give or take some creative calculating and loose interpretation of “loose impediment” rules.
Of course, Rory McIlroy played the course like a municipal layout during his final-round 66. But the lack of Sunday drama gets emphatically trumped if McIlroy goes on to become Tiger Woods' authentic archrival. In that case, Kiawah Island is the hallowed launch pad.
“Well done to @McIlroyRory unbelievable performance!!!” McIlroy's girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki tweeted to her 398,691 Twitter followers after Rory hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy.
“2 number 1's together!!!” McIlroy tweeted to his 1,210,808 followers — complete with profile photo of the happy couple.
Worth celebrating, absolutely.
Consider that only two active golfers under 40 have won more than one major, and both of them wore red shirts during the final round at the Ocean Course.
And that, at 23, a healthy and competitive McIlroy figures to play in, oh, approximately 80 more majors. Odds are the Irish charmer finishes somewhere between his present two titles (he also won the 2011 U.S. Open) and Woods' 14.
“What a great day! Great day!” Rory's father Gerry kept repeating as his son starred in the official PGA Championship ceremony on the 18th hole. “He just played really well. Really well.”
Repeating is more than tolerable; repeating as a major champion guarantees a clear contrast to Woods, at least in the short term. Rory and Tiger will do battle in a one-day exhibition clash in China on Oct. 29. Though the contract was processing as McIlroy was winning the PGA by eight shots, golf really needs such precious timing.
Until Rory swallowed the back nine on Sunday, there were 16 different winners over the previous 16 majors.
What a difference an Ocean Course rout makes.
Woods, by the way, won only one of his 14 majors by age 23.
McIlroy doesn't just win majors, he devours the field; the 2011 U.S. Open win at Congressional also was an eight-shot spread.
Tiger roars only if leading after three rounds, his winning recipe in all 14 of his major triumphs.
Cute couples vs. Fred Couples
This rivalry has multi-continent, multi-ethnic appeal. That McIlroy is 13 years younger than Woods — same age difference as Tiger and Vijay Singh — is potentially a boost for industry managers trying to lure young enthusiasts.
The kids have to like the Caroline thing, too. Hard to think of a high-profile sports couple so on top of their respective games since Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert appeared together on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
That was 38 summers ago.
Marketing execs can't believe their luck. No doubt, cute couples sell better than Fred Couples.
A few decades from now, it's easy to imagine Woods and McElroy green-lighting a story about their combined 28 major championships.
For now, we can thank him from saving the 2012 PGA from a Wanamaker Trophy winner no one had ever heard of and limiting David Lynn to what might become a great golf trivia question:
Name the 38-year-old guy from England who was playing in his first pro tournament in the U.S. but finished second at that famed PGA Championship at the Ocean Course when the legendary Rory McIlroy won by eight shots?
Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter @sapakoff