The Follow-Through: The re-emergence of McIlroy

 

The Sports Network

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - After claiming his first victory since 2012 at the BMW PGA Championship this past weekend, I think it's safe to say Rory McIlroy may be returning to being a dominant player again.

McIlroy's sixth career European Tour win was the culmination of what has been as impressive comeback season for the former world No. 1.

The Ulsterman vaulted to the top spot in the world with a dominant 2012 that saw him collect five victories between the European and PGA Tours, including his second career major victory at the PGA Championship.

His impressive year also earned him the accolades of PGA Tour and European Tour player of the year.

That season, however, was followed by a tumultuous 2013 that saw him finish inside the top 10 in just five of his first 20 tournaments. Also during that stretch, he missed four cuts and withdrew from the Honda Classic with a questionable wisdom tooth injury.

But he closed the year on a high note with a tie for sixth place at the WGC- HSBC Champions and a share of fifth at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. He has now carried that late momentum into 2014, where his worst finish of the year was a share of 25th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

In his other nine starts at stroke play events, McIlroy has finished no worse than a share of ninth place.

"I could feel my game sort of bubbling and it was getting there. A win, as I said earlier, a win validates that," McIlroy said following his first career victory on European soil on Sunday. "I think the game is waiting for one guy or one or two guys or whatever just to kick on. I stand by that comment; that I'd like to be that guy, and I'd like to think that this is a springboard to doing something like that."

He was alluding, of course, to the game needing someone to stand up and take control while Tiger Woods remains sidelined following back surgery in March. And now that Woods recently announced he will not be participating in the upcoming U.S. Open, the need for a new marquee player is greater than ever.

Meanwhile, the result of the largely Tiger-less season has been a total of 27 different winners in 33 events, including eight first-time winners.

That type of parity is great for the game overall, but for the casual fan who needs to latch onto a name to root for or against, it can push them away.

Enter the high-profile McIlroy, who has all the attributes you could look for in a star player.

When he is playing at his best, he has one of the best golf games in the world and seems to be extremely personable.

Plus, if you were looking for a reason to dislike him, he recently called off his engagement to tennis superstar Caroline Wozniacki during a reported three- minute phone call. Some people may find that a heartless way to end an engagement with someone and use it to root against McIlroy.

All that adds up to someone who has all you are looking for to become the new focal point in golf.

That is especially true if McIlroy can keep up his stellar play for the foreseeable future and there is nothing that says he can not.

It's a prospect that the PGA Tour would undoubtedly love to see play out for the remainder of the season.

Read more Golf stories from the Miami Herald

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