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Tour Confidential: What's next for Rory McIlroy? Plus, the end of the Tiger Era and Fowler vs. Garcia

Rory McIlroy
Thomas Lovelock/SI
Rory McIlroy is now a green jacket away from a career Grand Slam.

Every Sunday night, conducts an e-mail roundtable with writers from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

1. Rory McIlroy won the British Open by two shots over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler on Sunday. What impressed you most about McIlroy at Royal Liverpool?

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@AlanShipnuck): Well, a lot of things: his awe-inspiring tee shots; high, buttery long-irons; superb putting. But I was most impressed by his grit. He simply refused to lose. If Rory can play more often with this kind of determination, then he is going to do some truly historic things in this game.

Joe Passov, senior editor, Golf Magazine (@joepassov): I was awed that at his size, he was only a few yards behind Dustin Johnson's best drives on Saturday. He was just killing it. He also sank some huge putts. Not so much the eagles he closed with on Saturday, but some great 10- to-12-foot par-savers that kept his momentum going after making the rare mistake.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine (@CameronMorfit): I was out there for those two eagles in the last three holes Saturday, and they were impressive. In fact, the way he played Sunday, you could say they won him the Open. The drives were epic -- long, straight, timely. And the long irons were just as spectacular, especially the one on 18, which never left the pin. Dustin Johnson, his playing partner that day, looked really deflated. Johnson is a mega-talent, but when Rory is feeling it, he is just as breathtaking, just as brilliant as Tiger was in his prime. It's just that Woods has still had many, many more of those jaw-dropping moments. Give Rory time.

Eamon Lynch, managing editor, (@eamonlynch): He seemed utterly without doubt from Thursday onward. If a player of his caliber is swinging well and supremely confident, then almost everyone else in the field is playing for second.

Jeff Ritter, senior editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Group (@Jeff_Ritter): It was a complete victory, but Rory dominated the par-5s by being aggressive and hitting a bunch of drivers. He essentially made them par-4s and finished 9-under for the week on those three holes. Couple that with the way he managed his game with the lead on Sunday, and it all felt eerily similar to a Tiger-in-2000 kind of victory.

Josh Sens, contributing writer, Golf Magazine (@JoshSens): It was a different kind of dominance than in 2006, when Woods won at Liverpool by mostly removing driver from his repertoire. McIlroy stayed aggressive, even with a big lead (driver off of the 1st this morning when most players were laying back). It was also impressive how he righted himself after a brief wobble, showing a different kind of steeliness than he did in his other two major wins, which were pretty much runaways.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Same as in the past: drives it as well as anybody since Norman, and has a far higher golf IQ.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated (@MarkGodich): I'd go with his play on Saturday from the time he dropped back into a tie with Rickie Fowler. The tournament was slipping away from Rory, but he engineered a fabulous up-and-down to maintain a share of the lead at the 13th, then he made two eagles and a birdie over the last five holes to go from tied to six shots up. Great players seize the opportunity. What a statement.

Jessica Marksbury, associate editor, Golf Magazine (@Jess_Marksbury): We've already seen what Rory can do when he's "on" -- obliterating fields and winning two majors by large margins. What impressed me most about Rory today was his composure. It's a very difficult thing to lead a major by six shots heading into the final round because expectations are so high, but he remained calm, even when Sergio looked like he was making a charge. Now, we've seen that Rory is also capable of gutting it out and closing, even when he's isn't firing on every single cylinder.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@GaryVanSickle): His putting. We knew he was long, but if he putts this well, he is major force.

2. McIlroy has won three of the four majors at age 25 -- the only other players to accomplish that are Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. How would you describe McIlroy’s young career in historical terms and what do you expect from him in the years ahead?

BAMBERGER: He's one of the great talents of all-time, but not remotely in the class of Woods or Nicklaus. He's strong and supple and should have a long, long career and will win when the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter is aligned with Mars.

LYNCH: He is clearly the best of his generation, but he's always likely to be more streaky than Woods or Nicklaus. Each time he falls into an apparent slump or maelstrom of off-course distractions, he seems to respond with a big win. His career hasn't been a steady climb but rather one of fits and starts. Still, when he's on form, it is an awesome thing to watch. If he keeps winning majors at this pace, he may stand a better chance of eclipsing Jack than Tiger does.

GODICH: He's in the company of Jack and Tiger. That pretty much sums it up. I'm putting Rory down for a career grand slam (he'll win two or three Masters) and eight majors, 10 if he catches a break or two.

SHIPNUCK: If Tiger was Joe DiMaggio (possessing a majestic all-around game with no weakness), Rory is Babe Ruth -- an awesome homerun hitter. Any time a major venue plays a little soft, he's a threat to blow away the field. He has yet to prove he can win on a really firm, fast layout, which is why he's struggled at other Opens and the Masters is his missing piece of the Slam. But Rory has all the tools to succeed there, or anywhere else. The truly scary thing is that he's still learning how to play the game. The sky is the limit.

RITTER: Joining a list that includes Jack and Tiger speaks for itself. He's in rare air. It's hard not to consider the possibility of Rory one day making a major run at Tiger's 14 or Jack's 18. Before the Open, I might've set Rory's over/under on career majors at seven. Today I'd move it into double digits. Tiger's pursuit of Jack's record was the biggest story in golf for so long -- in fact, it probably still is -- but the idea that Rory could also threaten Jack's mark is fresh and exciting. This is going to be fun.

PASSOV: We knew he had this in him three years ago-- all of this sick, crazy, wonderful potential. His breezy attitude, rapport with people, to-die-for swing tempo -- all of this had "all-time great" written all over it, until it didn't. No one really saw this 18-month slump coming, but how do any of us know the impact all of the outside stuff had on his life? Management, girlfriend, equipment change, etc. At Hoylake, Rory looked like the guy from 2011-2012 that was supposed to come in and dominate. Let's let it unfold from here.

SENS: Given the depth of talent these days, his three might be the most impressive. To paraphrase what Johnny Miller once said about Tiger, the only thing that will keep him from banking a bunch of additional majors is putting problems, marriage problems, or injury problems.

MARKSBURY: Rory is certainly the most exciting young player that I can remember (since Tiger, anyway) to actually deliver on expectations of greatness. And lest we forget, Rory's been through a lot in the last 18 months. It would seem that with various things behind him now -- a broken engagement, a major equipment change -- the sky is truly the limit. Rory's talent is just incredible, and now that his confidence is high again, it doesn't seem like a stretch to say that we may be entering a new Rory era. Bring it on!

MORFIT: Rory is streaky. When he's on, he can run off victories in bunches, the way he did in 2012 when he won the PGA Championship and then back-to-back FedEx Cup playoff events. I'm not going to say he's a lock to win the PGA next month, but I did already check how many par 5s Valhalla has (three). If you want to predict which courses McIlroy might win majors on, you could do worse than pick the ones Tiger won majors on. That owes to something Luke Donald was talking to me about: strokes-gained driving. McIlroy, like Woods in his prime, can at times completely separate himself with his long game.

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