Imagine you’re 22 years old and waking up this morning with a better score after 54 holes than anyone in the history of the U.S. Open. What would you do all morning to prepare for the final round of the tournament, knowing all you have to do is not blow an 8-stroke lead on the biggest day of your life?
I’d imagine that wouldn’t have be so bad for Rory McIlroy, as long as he doesn’t think about what happened two months ago at Augusta National. If you recall, he blew a 4-stroke lead during the final round of the Masters, exploring every nook and cranny of that course … in a bad way.
With a lead twice that size this time around, McIlroy can lock up his first major win and allow the Tiger Woods comparisons to begin (on the course, not off). And even though he wouldn’t tell you if he was thinking about that fateful April day, I really don’t think it will be on his mind as he walks to the first tee this afternoon.
If golf seems minuscule to the No. 8 player in the world, it may have something to do with the trip he took earlier this month. McIlroy spent some time in Haiti on a humanitarian trip with UNICEF, and it put a lot of things in perspective, on and off the golf course.
“It just gives you a completely different view on the world and the game that you play,” McIlroy told CBS Sports. “It just makes you feel so lucky that I’m able just to sit here and drink a bottle of water, just the normal things that everyone does that you take for granted.”
With everything he saw in one of the poorest countries in the back of his mind, Rory probably has a new view on his priorities. But that won’t quell his thirst for a major win.
It would be just the third victory of the young man’s career, but everyone who has seen him play thinks he could be the next Tiger Woods of the sport. And if you turn on a sports show this morning, you may be compelled to believe that — he is bringing golf back all on his own.
But I can’t even imagine what this morning will be like for him — sitting and waiting for his chance to take the course and finish the last 18 holes will probably seem like an eternity. Luckily, he has his father in town to spend the morning with, and based on what I’ve heard about the McIlroy family, the two will probably share a nice Father’s Day breakfast before heading to Congressional.
Hopefully, all the dads who will be sitting on their couch this evening and enjoying their day will be treated to a fantastic final round from Rory McIlroy. But as we’ve already seen this weekend, the kid who has seen so much in the last two months is already a gift to the golf world.