The Niggle: Does golf need Rory McIlroy to dominate?

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Will a period of dominance by Rory McIlroy be good for the game of golf? Or will it become boring?

After winning back-to-back majors, Rory McIlroy is now a four-time winner at just 25.

Does golf need a period of dominance by the Northern Irishman to give golf a boost in the same way as when Tiger Woods was winning majors for fun?

James Savage and James Tompkinson debate the issue.

JS – Winning back-to-back majors is an amazing achievement and there is no doubt that when on top form, Rory McIlroy is almost unbeatable. However, the best thing about the last two majors for me was the fact we had great players in contention at the top of the leaderboard going into the final round. This is what golf needs. To see Stenson, Mickelson, Fowler and McIlroy slug it out on Sunday was brilliant. If any of those other than McIlroy won it would have been just as good.

JT – Of course it’s great to see the very top players at the top of Major leaderboards, and I don’t like it when you have one player who runs away with a Major like Martin Kaymer did at the US Open. However, I think it was brilliant to see Rory win again and it would be good for golf if he were to carry on winning Majors in the very near future. When Rory wins, people are interested and therefore golf spends more time on the back pages of newspapers and the home pages of sports websites, which can only be a good thing.
Every time Rory wins it opens the game up to a much wider audience JS – It’s great to see golf on the back pages and Rory certainly makes good copy. From a purely selfish point of view, I would have preferred Henrik Stenson to win on Sunday. After Rory had won the last two tournaments, I wanted to write about someone different. I also think Stenson is one of the game’s great characters and to come back from the brink of obscurity to win a major would be a great story. Stenson is cool, I love his post round interviews and the way he plays the game. He won’t fill as many column inches as Rory but he would have been more than a worthy winner of a superb PGA Championship. 

JT – Surely anyone who battles to win the PGA Championship is worthy of their victory? There’s no denying that Stenson would have been a wonderful winner, but every time Rory wins it opens the game up to a much wider audience. We’re forever talking about a need to bring golf into the public consciousness if the game is to thrive and survive in the future, and nobody else at the moment can do that as well as Rory. A really obscure winner would have been great for golf writers because it gives them something new to talk about, but it would have done nothing for the game on a wider scale.

JS – Rory is young enough to go on and win many more majors. The fact he is the favourite each week and in contention will keep people interested. Everyone is enjoying his success at the moment but I think it is equally important for the game that there are a number of players who can win. Rather than a era dominated by one player like Tiger, it would be better to have the likes of Rory, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Matteo Manassero and Victor Dubuisson all competing for top honours over the next 10 years. 

JT – I’m not sure I agree actually. I think the game has gone through a period like that since Tiger won his last Major and I’m not convinced we’re any better for it. We just end up with lots of players who end up having a mediocre public perception because they didn’t fulfil their supposed potential. In 10 years time, which story are you going to tell – the one where Rory McIlroy wins lots of Majors and dominates the game in the same way that Nicklaus and Woods did, or the one where 10 players all win one Major championship? I think the wider public wants to see whether Rory really can go on and be a great of the game, not a range of players sharing the spoils between them. 

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