Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 5th 2015 Contents A57
Tuesday, May 5, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
SAN FRANCISCO---Unless he changed his routine,
Rory McIlroy started celebrating his 26th birthday
yesterday by going to the website of the Official
World Golf Ranking to see where he stood. It was
neither a gift nor a surprise.
Everyone knows he is No. 1.
McIlroy only wants to know by how much.
"Every Monday morning, I go on the website and
look at what my lead is --- hopefully, lead --- and
tomorrow morning will be the same," he said.
This was shortly after he beat Gary Woodland, 4
and 2, to win the Match Play Championship. And
it was in response to a question about whether
McIlroy felt more like the No. 1 player with the trophy
at his side than before he won all seven matches at
the TPC Harding Park.
"I don t need any wins or validation to feel like
that," McIlroy said.
It was his second win of the year. He has won two
of the last three World Golf Championships he has
played. He joined Tiger Woods (29) and Jack Nicklaus
(17) as the only players to have won 10 times on the
PGA Tour at age 25 or younger. He made it with one
day to spare.
And it was made all the better by the timing.
This was the first tournament since Jordan Spieth
won the Masters and moved to No. 2 in the world.
"I think everyone --- not just me, but everyone on
tour --- was inspired seeing Jordan do what he did
at Augusta," McIlroy said. "This is the start of a nice
little run of golf for me, and I wanted to come out
and play well and increase my lead in the world
rankings ... and keep going. But it s always nice to
have people pushing you. And I feel like he s one of
the guys doing that right now."
Not since the prime years of Tiger Woods and
Phil Mickelson has there been this much hope for
a championship match between No. 1 and No. 2.
Spieth played as well as anyone during the round-
robin portion of the tournament by going the equiv-
alent of 15 under par over 49 holes. This being match
play, all those birdies didn t matter when Lee West-
wood outplayed him on the last two holes and elim-
inated him on Friday.
Not to worry. There s always another week. The
Players Championship starts Thursday.
By then, of course, the public could be ready to
crown some other young star on a tour that is loaded
with such potential. Spieth said as much before the
Match Play began when he was asked if he felt as
though he was the player with the biggest target on
"Within the first two weeks after the Masters,
yes," was his honest reply.
Spieth knows who rules golf at the moment. He
might have a green jacket, but McIlroy still has the
He also understands the attention that comes with
decimating the field at Augusta National at age 21
and following that with a 62 right when it looked
as if he were running out of gas. And he has made
it clear he still has a long way to go to catch McIlroy
at No. 1.
McIlroy made it even longer with his Match Play
Spieth also wondered what would happen if Rickie
Fowler were to win the US Open. That would be
another player to be considered a contender for No.
"I have to keep doing what I ve been doing," Spieth
said. "Yeah, I feel that right now. I like that. I enjoy
it. And I want to keep it that way. But again, I think
it s hyped up a little right after the tournament. And
that s cool, but I need to keep doing that in order
for it to stay that way."
What this victory by McIlroy reinforced was that
the real battle still to be played out is who earns the
right to be his biggest rival. Among players in their
20s, McIlroy has 16 victories worldwide and four
majors. Spieth has five wins and one major.
Plus, it s hard to read too much into a victory in
Woods looked out of sync early in 2004. He had
gone five straight tournaments without contending
--- this used to constitute a slump --- and had gone
more than a year since his split with Butch Harmon.
He was just starting to consider a swing change
under Hank Haney. He won the Match Play Cham-
pionship at La Costa, with only one of his six matches
going the distance.
It was his only PGA Tour victory that year.
There s something about leaving town with a tro-
phy, however, and McIlroy looked confident as ever
when he headed home to Florida. He had plans to
go to dinner with family and friends to celebrate his
birthday. But first, he would check the ranking.
"It s nice to have that healthy lead," he said. "I
just want to try to keep increasing it. Obviously,
I ve done that today. But ultimately, it s about
Rory McIlroy: Holding the top
ranking, wearing the crown
Rory McIlroy, of
Northern Ireland, hits
out of the rough on
the 13th hole of the
tournament at TCP
Harding Park on
Sunday, in San
won the tournament.
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