April 10, 2011

Is McIlroy the Next Tiger?

By - Kris Fletcher

Will 21-year-old Rory McIlroy hold off the veterans later today at Augusta National Golf Club and win the Masters?

Photo by: Getty Images
That question was being asked fourteen years ago about another 21-year-old by the name of Tiger Woods, who made off with the first of his four green jackets when he won the 1997 Masters Tournament, beating out already established major championship winners such as Tom Kite, Tom Watson and Fred Couples.

Woods grabbed the lead after 36-holes and never looked back, winning by a record 12 shots.

Through three rounds of this years Masters, McIlroy seems to have the very same confidence and swagger that Woods had back in '97. Now all that's left to do is close the deal.

To this point, he's used a deadly combination of driving distance and accuracy to maintain his hold atop the leader board. When asked how he liked his chances to take home the green jacket, McIlroy responded with, "If I continue to play the way I have, I feel as if I've got a great chance to win. I look down at this field and at some point or another, I've beaten them all before, so there's no reason I can't beat them again."

That definitely doesn't sound like someone intimidated by the players that are attempting to catch him.

One of those players just so happens to be Tiger, who after a slow start, at one point had climbed into the top 5 of the leader board, but finished the third round tied for 9th overall at 5-under par.

Last year's champion Phil Mickelson is tied for 20th place. Disappointing to say the least, especially when you consider that most people thought he had a legit shot at defending his championship.

If McIlroy holds on for the win, will we be witnessing the beginning of what could be "the changing of the guard" so to speak on the PGA Tour?

He's gotta win it first...

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