PGA Tour Confidential: Rory McIlroy wins Dubai World Championship

PGA Tour Confidential: Rory McIlroy wins Dubai World Championship
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McIlroy's pursuit of a career Grand Slam and Woods's pursuit of Nicklaus figure to be two of the biggest stories of 2013.

CATCHING TIGER AND JACK
Bamberger: What do you all think of this rash talk about Rory catching Tiger and Jack? Darren Clarke is now part of that conversation. I think it is pure nuttiness.

Shipnuck: Well, for 10 years the talk about Kobe is how he compares to Jordan. For all-time talents, you need a lofty measuring stick.

Herre: Yes, it's way premature. When/if Rory gets to double figures, we can talk.

Godich: It's like John Wooden said after watching seemingly invincible UNLV get upset by Duke when the Rebels were chasing their second straight basketball title in 1991: A lot of teams have won one title in a row. (I've probably used that before in Confidential, but that quote never gets old.)

Van Sickle: It's a nod to Rory's talent that the conversation has come up. Just like Jack and Tiger, there's no way to really compare Rory to either until time has passed. But Rory is off to a brilliant start, so we're sure to keep track of where he is vs. Jack's and Tiger's timelines. That said, Rory still doesn't have more majors than Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange or Andy North, among others. Win it and they will come.

Godich: It's nonsense. Just let the kid play. In this day and age, winning five majors would be quite the accomplishment.

Hanger: If anyone today has a chance of getting past 10 majors, it's Rory, but we all know how fickle this game can be. It's too early to talk about 14 or 18 majors for Rory, no matter the pace he's setting.

Garrity: I was re-reading SI's reporting on Tiger winning the 1995 U.S. Amateur at Newport, R.I. His dad said: "I'm going to make a prediction. Before he's through, my son will win 14 major championships." Everyone thought it was a hollow boast, but it's starting to look like an incredible prediction. Earl's number was FOURTEEN! (Sorry for shouting.)

Van Sickle: Earl called 14? That's a great piece of not-so-trivial trivia, John! Earl's Gandhi line is a little behind schedule, however.

Walker: I don't think it's rash to talk about McIlroy beating Jack's record. He's 23 and has already won two majors. Will he win 18? Not likely, but it's fun to talk about, and it doesn't hurt anyone. Plus, Darren Clarke has a new autobiography to sell and nothing gets attention like Tiger, Rory and golf's Everest.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Are you ready to start a McIlroy countdown to Jack's record?

TIGER'S RECORD VS. RORY'S SLAM
Bamberger: What holds your interest more: Rory's pursuit of the career Grand Slam, or Tiger's pursuit of 18 (and then 19)?

Morfit: I've been happy to stop thinking about 18, actually. Tiger set himself up for trouble by making that the end-all, be-all. Now that he's not going to get it, do we judge him a failure? Obviously not.

Bamberger: In the Haney book, Tiger talks about being satisfied at 14. Maybe he re-read Earl's U.S. Am prediction more recently than others.

Godich: Haven't you heard? Tiger doesn't read any of that stuff.

Garrity: It would have to be Tiger's pursuit of 19. Too many players have achieved the grand slam for that to keep me up at night.

Shipnuck: Tiger, for sure. It's an epic quest on so many levels, and we've all been invested in it from the beginning. We can circle back later on Rory.

Van Sickle: It's not their pursuits, it's them. We've been fortunate enough to see Tiger Woods hit more impossible, unlikely and unforgettable shots than any player in history. Win or lose, watching Tiger is a treat. The same for Rory and his seamless swing. The real fun is seeing them pull off the key shot that matters at the end, like Tiger's chip in 2005 at Augusta at 16, to name just one.

Godich: I'll take Tiger and 18. Everything seemed to come so easily when he got in the hunt, so I'm intrigued to see how he handles the pressure these days.

Hanger: Tiger. That would be one of the all-time great sports achievements. But it is getting less and less interesting to follow the longer Tiger's current major drought lasts.

Reiterman: It's still Tiger's pursuit of Jack, and it will be until he hangs up his Nike hat.

Van Sickle: It would be interesting to see Tiger get close to 18 just to see the reaction. I think there would be some blowback, like when Hank Aaron chased Babe Ruth's record. Nicklaus is a beloved icon; Tiger is a great player with a publicized scandal. I think there'd be factions rooting for and against Tiger.

Morfit: Rory is more interesting by a mile. The story of Tiger's quest for 18 majors is totally dead. If and when he wins another one, it'll be mostly dead.

Hanger: I'm skeptical he'll get to 18 or 19, but to say it's totally dead is ridiculous. He is still the second best player in the world, and no one in any sport has ever been more capable of proving people wrong. As soon as he wins his next one, the Tiger-major-record watch will be fully on again.

Bamberger: I think Tiger's pursuit of Jack is one of the most compelling ever, in any field. And if he gets to 15, it becomes only more interesting.

Van Sickle: If Tiger wins No. 15, Tigermania will be back in full force, and the media will be positively hysterical. The Countdown to Jack will pick up right where it left off, especially with our TV friends.

Morfit: I just don't believe Tiger is going to come close to 19 majors. There's way too much young talent.

Godich: Here's a question: How important is the career grand slam. What if Rory wins 7 Masters, 6 U.S Opens and 6 PGAs? I don't think anybody is going to be all that bothered that he didn't win the British.

Walker: Except for every resident of the British Isles.

Bamberger: You have to win the British. You don't have to win the PGA, but you have to win the British.

Van Sickle: Phew! That's good news for Ben Curtis.

Godich: And Todd Hamilton.

Shipnuck: I totally agree with Michael. The British is mandatory for the legacy of a kid who holds the course record at Portrush.

Van Sickle: Right. Being from Northern Ireland, he has to win the British.

Godich: If Rory wins 19 majors, are people really going to say, "Yeah, but he never won the British"? I don't think so. A major is a major.

Van Sickle: I sort of agree, but if he wins 19 without a British, it'll be like Snead without an Open and Palmer and Watson without a PGA. He'll get as many questions about the one he didn't win as he gets about the 19 he did. Of course, if I had 19 majors, I could definitely live with that.

Garrity: If Rory wins 19 majors with no British Open, people will say there's something wrong with the Open, not with Rory.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Which storyline interests you more: Tiger's pursuit of Jack, or Rory's pursuit of the career grand slam?

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