Wednesday, August 13, 2014

After PGA Championship, McIlroy and Fowler are 2014 Winners

NY Daily News
It was at the beginning of the 2013 PGA Tour schedule when Rory McIlroy signed his massive $200 million long-term deal with Nike. By the end of the year, McIlroy had gone winless and there were rumblings that the deal was a bust. 

Some cited the new club manufacturer as a source of the struggles; some cited his then-relationship with Caroline Wozniacki. A little patience was all that was needed, though. Because in 2014, McIlroy is asserting himself as the top golfer in the world. And he looks to have gained the killer instinct it takes to win majors.

The 25-year-old Northern Irishman hoisted the PGA Championship trophy high over his head after carding a 16-under (268) to beat Phil Mickelson by one stroke. It was his fourth career major and second this season (British Open). McIlroy needs only The Masters to complete the career grand slam. 

En route to the victory Sunday, McIlroy showed the killer instinct in the heat of a four-way battle between himself, Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson. At one point nearing the end of his round, he drilled his drive and didn’t even bother looking at, knowing it was perfect, just picking up his tee and beginning a determined walk down the fairway. 

During the back-nine, always-colorful golf analyst David Feherty called McIlroy a “baby-faced assassin.” He showed flashes of Woodsian determination, the kind that takes a player from thinking ‘hey, I can win this thing’ to ‘I’m winning this, now move out of my way.’ The kind that makes other players hope he’s taking the week off.

Of course, Tiger Woods has 14 major titles to his name, and speculating whether or not McIlroy will get there is simply impossible. Remember when we tried to pinpoint how many majors Woods would pass Jack Nicklaus by? Yea, that went well.

(My question is who will step up to be McIlroy’s arch-rival? Woods had Mickelson. Not only does having that sort of rivalry elevate a player’s game, it gives the good guy vs. bad guy feel that fans want and need. It was always ‘Are you Team Woods or Team Mickelson?’ I guess you could have picked the field, but then you were just doing it to show you could name a third golfer. McIlroy (and the game) could use that sort of sparring partner.)

He already has the marketing power, as seen but his Nike deal at the very least. But with performances like he had at the PGA, McIlroy vaults himself into appointment viewing. Whenever he’s in it on a Sunday, people tune in.

Even with Woods cut before the weekend, the PGA Championship’s ratings on CBS were up 36 percent from 2013, according to And remember, the 2013 was the one that gave the world “Dufnering.” The 6.0 share was the highest since 2009 when Y.E. Yang and Tiger Woods battled down to the wire. 

He’s young. He can dominate. Rory McIlroy is a star.


Has anybody ever had a better season without winning a major championship than Rickie Fowler in 2014? 

With his second-place finish at the PGA Championship Sunday, Fowler became the first player since The Masters became a major in 1934 to finish in the top-five in all four majors without winning. 

Now, I must admit that I’ve had a little Rickie Fowler bias for a while. Back in 2012, I wrote about the things that Fowler brings to the game that very few others bring. Having worked in the golf industry for almost six years myself, I’ve seen the impact that Fowler has had on the game. 

Rant Sports
It would not be far-fetched to say that Fowler has had the second biggest impact on kids under 18 years old behind Tiger Woods. His signature Puma hats are everywhere. He has that “cool factor” that the PGA Tour so desperately tries to reach.

Fowler has perhaps the most natural brand in the game. He doesn’t have to whitewash who he is. He wears bright colors. He posts pictures and videos of himself taking on some extreme sports. He’s exactly what the game needs. Now the game just needs him to win some majors. 

Fowler began working with Butch Harmon, one of the best swing coaches in the game of golf, in December 2011. After undergoing a swing reconstruction, the 25-year-old seems to be back to the kind of game that propelled him to the No. 1 spot in the amateur rankings in 2007 and 2008 and to the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year award in 2010.

With the momentum he built in 2014, Rickie Fowler could be a force to be reckoned with in his Oklahoma State burnt orange on Sundays in 2015.


Kevin Rossi is a senior Drexel Sport Management major with minors in Communications and Business Administration. Since joining the SMTSU, Kevin has worked his way up the ladder to President. Currently, Kevin is serving as the Sports Information Assistant for Drexel Athletics and  intern at Comcast SportsNet in web production. Kevin has writing experience with, The Triangle, Temple University, and various outlets in a freelance capacity. Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Connect with Kevin Rossi on LinkedIn.

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