Point/counterpoint: Who will win a major first — Tiger or Rory?

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 12, 2011 7:20 AM

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Rory McIlroy

Even though Rory McIlroy will most likely always be remembered as one of the greatest choke artists of all time for his epic breakdown on the fourth day of the 2011 Masters, he will win his first major before Tiger adds No. 15 to his trophy case.

I know everyone is foaming at the mouth, itching to say the words “Tiger is back,” but not so fast.

Tiger still has a long way to go before he reaches the level of dominance he showed before experiencing a myriad of personal problems.

Let’s not forget, McIlroy was not the only one who choked away the green jacket this weekend.

At the end of the round on Sunday, Tiger three-putted a bogey on 12 and soon after missed a gimme eagle putt on 15 that would have given him a one stroke lead over the competition. Woods has given up a lead during the final round of a major championship three of the last five times — previously, he was 12-for-12.

This is not the Tiger we have come to know and love, the Tiger who is flawless in his red Nike golf shirt on Sunday, and the Tiger who never misses an important putt when the big purse is on the line.

He still has a way to go before we see the former most dominant athlete in sports back to his old self.

While McIlroy did basically choke away his 12-under-par score and four-stroke lead on Sunday, the world saw a player who essentially dominated seven-eighths of one of the most exciting Masters in recent memory. Sure, the Northern Irishman had to shoot out of the greens keeper’s tulip patch to triple bogey 10 and four-putted a double bogey on 12, but I’m willing to bet he’ll never do that again.

What the world saw this past weekend was a 21-year-old who has the potential to take the golf community by storm. It’s time that someone new that everyone loves to cheer for has arisen. Mark your calendars golf fans, McIlroy will capture his first major at the U.S. Open in mid-June.

— by Ben Ross

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Tiger Woods

After 17 months without a tournament victory, Eldrick “Tiger” Woods is back. The best Masters in years proved that this past weekend.

The fact of the matter is, Woods didn’t even play close to his capabilities, and he still finished at 10-under, only two strokes behind the eventual winner Charl Schwartzel.

Imagine if his putting had been as good as fans are accustomed to seeing. Woods, without his usual dominance on the greens, still almost won the whole bloody tournament.

I believe this performance from Woods was his official proclamation to the ranks of professional golf that he is back.

Looking at the professional golf rankings from golfweek.com, Luke Donald currently owns the No. 1 spot, while Woods is at No. 9. Last time I checked though, Woods has 14 major victories to go along with 71 PGA tour victories. He is still ahead of Jack Nicklaus’ pace to break the all-time record for major victories (18).

Woods is the best golfer in the world whether the rankings say so or not.

When golfers get on a course for the final Sunday round and see Woods — one of the most competitive athletes ever — dressed in his red Nike polo with a black hat and black pants, they cower in fear.

Just look at young Rory McIlroy. He had a comfortable lead through the first three days of the tournament, but with El Tigre breathing down his neck, he couldn’t handle the mental pressure and shanked a tee shot into a cabin, eventually finishing tied for 15th place. It will be remembered as one of the biggest choke jobs ever.

Woods didn’t win the 2011 Masters, but he was certainly the biggest story. With his performance the past weekend, the rest of the golf world better watch out.

Expect Woods to snap off numerous victories this year and add at least one more major title.

— by Ben Wolfson

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