Tiger gave Rory something to think about Sunday, but in the end “Rors” turned his nose up at Tiger’s very Woodsian final round 62 and quietly succeeded Luke Donald as the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer.
McIlroy won the Honda Classic in a style to which he’d like to become more accustomed, fashioning a final round 1-under 69 to win by two shots over the erstwhile world No. 1 and 43-year-old journeyman Tom Gillis, who went a long way toward keeping his Tour card for another year.
Rory has been in contention his last several tournaments but closed the deal only one other time since dominating the U.S. Open at Congressional last year. At 22 years, 10 months, he’s the second-youngest player ever to ascend to No. 1 status. Yes, of course, Tiger was younger at 21 years and 24 weeks.
The nascent Tiger-Rory rivalry could foreshadow one of those historic Ryder Cup singles matches for the ages later this year at Medinah. But before that the two will meet later this week at Doral and next month at The Masters, where both have a history.
Tiger-followers looking for encouraging signs will want to know that Woods led the field in driving distance at 310 yards while hitting 69 percent of his greens in regulation, third best in the field. That’s good news for Woods as he tries to rebuild his game. Meanwhile, Rory led in scrambling, getting up-and-down more than 83 percent of the time.