So an 18-year-old kid is near the top of the leaderboard after the first day
at Carnoustie. What’s all the fuss about?
With Irishman Paul McGinley making noise during a first-round 67 at the
British Open, it was a fellow countryman, albeit one some 20 years
younger, who may be the toast of all the Emerald Isle’s golf fans this
After an impressive bogey-free round of three-under 68, a curly-locked lad
called Rory McIlroy sits in a tie for third place in a group that includes
U.S. Open champ Angel Cabrera and 2005 winner Michael Campbell and one
stroke clear of Padraig Harrington. He has put himself in early position to
capture the hearts of youth-crazy golf fans much like Justin Rose did at
Royal Birkdale in 1998 or Spencer Levin did at Shinnecock during the U.S.
Open in 2004. And golf fans remember how Matt Kuchar stole the show with his
father on his bag back in 1998, winning low amateur at both the Masters and
the U.S. Open teasing fans with his charming “awe-shucks” smile. Need we
forget about the scissor-kicking Spaniard who still has yet to capture his
first major crown?
What is it about golf fans and their obsession for youth? Actually, knowing
what I know about the British tabloids, it’s tough for me to take seriously
the love affair from the fans. They are probably rooting hard for the young
man this week so they can see him come back in a few years and struggle to break
80. Then they will wonder what the hell happened to the kid in the first place.
And what is it about young players who reach a pinnacle at such a young age?
History has proven that players, not named Tiger of course, who obviously
played over their heads for a few days, have to come back to earth, and it is
then that their resiliency is really tested. It seems playing so well in a
major is more of a career curse, since they have to spend their early career
trying to recapture the week’s success. I mean logic would dictate if you
can have a top finish in a major, you should be able to win a lesser
tournament on a easier golf course as soon as you turn pro.
Unfortunately golf and logic aren’t synergistic.
Rose, who was 17 at the time and turned pro the following week, struggled
mightily right away before developing into one of Europe’s best talents.
Kuchar passed on his instant fame to return to college and found moderate
success on Tour, but has been off everyone’s radar for some time. And every
golf fan will be glued to the television this weekend if Sergio and his new
belly putter continue to make putts.
Odds are MclLory probably didn’t sleep that much last night, and the law
of averages says some bogeys are coming Friday. He may wake up in the middle
of the back nine on Sunday with the chance to do something crazy or he may
be going home Friday night. So many possible endings to the week for a kid
that gets picked up for golf in Darren ClarkeÂ¹s private jet yet needs to ask
permission to borrow the car keys.
Wait, now I understand all the fuss.